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Barrier Reef

(formerly Great)
 
The map is neatly new. The paper, parchment. An artist’s impression. Picture book perfect. Not to be used as a navigational aid. I travel the length of Queensland in seconds. Swathes of thick green meet powder blue. A ribbon of colour ghosts its edge with bursts of pink and yellow, orange and purple. Coral before the climate effect. And there are big fish and small, jellied and finned. Black lines trailing them. As if that’s what will follow. A snake slithers from a spidering sun. A turtle tracks the Tropic of Capricorn. Islands in between are barely visible. Hinchinbrook, Magnetic, Whitsunday. Beads along the coast’s throat. Gateways to reef. What is the language here? How many Aboriginal ones are still spoken? Falling on closed ears. In a place that’s screaming.

Go to JV Birch's profile to read more poems