J V Birch

With stitches removed, I forget I'm healing, 
put my hands behind my head for the chiro to link 

his arms through and adjust my upper back. 
The quiet wetness surprises me, how swiftly it crimsons 

the gauze. I call my specialist. He’s unavailable. 
I see my doctor. She stems the flow with the tidiest 

care so I can travel the next day, tells me it may scar more, 
oblivious to the one where my right breast should be. 

The heat of the north is welcome like a friend at dinner. 
We're the last to board the waiting boat, apologise

needlessly. The gorge is breathtaking, the face
of it chiselled by time. Freshwater crocs sun themselves

and the wet season’s marked with dark flashes. 
Our captain charts its history, how the Jawoyn know

that when the yellow kapok flowers, the crocs are mating, 
when its pods are fattening, the eggs are quickening. 

Climbing steps to reach the rock art, I start 
to pull on my backpack, stop abruptly, glance at the river

running through like a wound. 

J V Birch is a British-born Australian poet living on Kaurna land in Adelaide. Her poems have been anthologised, exhibited and published in Australia, the UK, Canada and the US, appearing in Australian Love Poems, the Hunter Writers Centre Grieve Anthology, Red Room Poetry’s Writing Water, Ink, Sweat & Tears, Australian Poetry Journal, Plumwood Mountain, StylusLit, Magma, Cordite, SurVision and Mslexia. She has four chapbooks with Ginninderra Press and a full-length collection, more than here. She blogs (occasionally) at



%d bloggers like this: