Environmental by Jo-Ella Sarich

I lay on my back beneath her underside,

wings fanning my fear like

six-pack rings around my wrists.

I wonder if she’d let me in, I wondered,

let me hide my sunburn. Would it

 

be the same in there, all those

pull-down charts where trees jut upwards

like arrows, rows upon

the FTSE index? I saw them

 

packing their men

like sardines in tin

dismounting the ocean’s surface

to the white halls beneath.

Free to

sleep against their notepads etched

with fly swat smears,

reach the nadir of

the exclamation dot,

and dream in all their

paper cities.

How deep to dive to reach her tears?

 

I saw

them marching their men off to war,

downward-trending like

16 types of endangered species. I saw

them grab branches with their tomahawk hands,

just to pull themselves ashore.

 

It’s OK, I’m use to beatings, she said.

 

I found her again like a

stray dog at the animal shelter. Maybe

it’s warm for January. I check

the mercury and pull

my jacket round her

just in case.

 

If tears were bullets, maybe

I could find a way

the words I need

to keep you safe.

 

I want to write about your sadness,

but my fingers strike

the depths of their feeding tubes

like concrete. There’s a shadow

On the water like a stain

and a stack

of paperwork to prove

you don’t exist. I turn

around and you don’t, and here’s me

believing

you’ve just gone back for more.

 

Fair Hera, with your ragged arms,

I don’t know how to reach your grief.

Did it pall beneath

the earth’s curtain,

faint soul under

the ocean’s feet?

Was it sucked inside the man-womb

where developers decorate the

brown-paper room with shards of clean bone

and boughs that link arms,

storms that have quelled, wings

that have long ceased to beat?

They’re counting up

 

the climate change refugees now,

when even all the fires from

the burning palm oil plantations

have failed to smoke you out.

The earth quiet like an ice cap, except for

 

the white bear-child

still searching like an albatross

for safety in

its mother’s teat.

 

Jo-Ella Sarich has practised as a lawyer for a number of years, recently returning to poetry after a long hiatus. Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in The New Verse News, Cleaver magazine, Quarterly Review, The Galway Review, Anti-Heroin Chic, takahē magazine and the Poetry New Zealand Yearbook 2017. 

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