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April 1, 2012 vol 8 no 1

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Cynthia Rowe


Deep North

Jamming on my old straw hat, I clamber aboard. The engines throb, tossing diesel fumes into the air, filling the Gulf with wisps of smoke to create a crazed Wedgwood bowl. Tourists push past, heading for the railings. The boat creaks. Shards of water spurt from the stern until the foam curls a Territorian farewell. On the port side a man clad in army disposal shorts drops to his haunches, stares at his hands in reverie. His sunburnt paws resemble salted fish.

estuary
a crocodile cruising
on the waterway

The vessel ploughs through an ore blue sea. The island blob, dark in Carpentaria distance, finally takes shape. The air is thick. I can almost taste the humidity as the boat slows, then edges into the jetty. Stepping ashore, I am confronted by the same boy with the ebony skin. I refuse his long bum shellfish, opt for the mud crab. After handing him a fistful of coins, I examine my purchase only to discover yellow eggs on the underside. I untie the pincers, watch the crustacean scuttle to safety beneath a prop root.

tropical sun
mangroves delving
into sand mud




crane