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Avoiding Emotive Language by Philippa Morris

Submission from a Riparian Landholder to the NSW DPIE
Re: Draft Regional Water Strategies (Gwydir) 2020

I walk, think and feel this river every day
And, through summers long, have watched it fade.
A stream that still should glide
Has struggled on in fits and starts for fifty years.

A vale that should abound and thrive,
Where only scattered remnants still survive.
Vanquished ‘goora-curra’ are bereft of trees
And winds blow bare soil into great brown clouds.

Lagoons, once sinuous across the plains
Shrink to stinking scum-fringed puddles.
Unless it rains. When water scrapes away
The last, precious, residues of clay.

Bereaved platypus die in muddy holes
Where once dragon flies were darting filaments of blue.
Colly, gill, meei, mungle: half-forgotten water words.
They lie on the map like reproaches.

Reeds. Birds. Water. All are gone.
Shy denizens of secret places; vanished all.
High up in the hills the ‘recharge zone’
Is but a flayed, bleached and fractured place of stones.

Your photographs are sleight of hand. The river’s
Corpse propped up on pillows, cosmetics carefully applied.
Soft focus lets the dead fish disappear.
Pictures hold no smell of putrefaction.

No spirit, life or soul. A plan of make believe;
‘Flood plain harvesting’ is the poacher’s friend;
Where nature gives willingly her bounty unto man.
‘Water rights’, where the only rite of water is to run.

Capture the ‘supplementary flow’! A wild animal
That needs control. Foolish humans want to
Change the world to suit ourselves.
Instead of changing self to suit the world.

A river that should murmur to the sea
Pausing in ‘noble reaches’ as it chatters down.
Arteries, veins and beating heart –
Reduced to forty policies, in draft.

When this river dies, then so shall I.

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