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April 2019 Vol. 15 No. 1

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Marietta McGregor

The Back Dam

The water is silky-cool, soft as the Epsom salts bath mother makes us take when we’re tired and sore-muscled. Dark and still, a blank mirror in the sunbaked paddock. We shouldn’t be here. The family is napping after late Sunday lunch, so we sneak out the open front door, through the house yard gate. Shapes of grazing sheep are indistinct headless hummocks in the heat shimmer. Our noses wrinkle at smells of dry dung, hot-burnt grass, eucalyptus, and something else, a dank steep from long-stagnant water. Mud at the edge oozes between our toes as we slip into darkness. Our motion disturbs trailing streamers of algal slime, acid-green and silky as mermaid’s hair, glowing iridescently as an unfurled bolt of Thai silk. The dam melds around us, into us. We tread water, trying not to put our feet on the bottom, among the snaggy shaggy nameless things that lie there. We’re giggly, laughing hysterically about bunyips. We shouldn’t be here. Mother said so.

shadows eddy
no flowers by request
in the death notice


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