Longwall – Dael Allison

somewhere south of sydney
an unremarkable stream is made remarkable

by its vanished water.
wander your mind on a river, how it refracts

a skipping stone, disappears quicksilver
from your hand, envelops

your plummeting body.
waratah rivulet wrote water’s history in rapid

calligraphic scrawl
mirrored cloud-blow, kingfisher

impetus. it fed the woronora—damned
for the shire.

now the quick, gleaming bed
is fissured, cracked wide open. dry rust

and ochre. hard landing.
machines craze the subterranean certainties

of rock.
longwalls 20 and 21 of peabody’s mine

chisel ancient strata with new calligraphies.
a shattering they’ll patch

uselessly with polyurethane.
in black flooding tunnels

mudeyes and caddisflies scratch the solid
meniscus, tap vainly

for light. men crack rocks for coal
and rivers shudder.

throw a stone into water, hear only
clatter.

in sydney’s southern catchment lands
an unremarkable stream

is no longer a stream.

Previously published in A Guide To Sydney Rivers, (Meuse Press, 2015)