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Expressive Arts

Climate Change Creative Writing – Second Place Winner

Flood

By Janet Newman*

When the floodwaters rose up

covering the plain with mirrors and veils

 

our backyards looked like other people’s

and the roads we drove failed under rivers

 

that seemed to have been there longer than we had.

Belongings stacked on pool tables sagged.

 

Sixteen sand bags might as well have been a cache of illegal toheroas

for all the good they could muster

 

against the weight of water

spilling over the stopbanks.

 

When the floodwaters rose up

we sank down

 

into our steamed-up cars if we could find them,

our fire-warmed lounges if we could reach them,

 

watching the rain gauge, the tide times,

the insurance claim, the surge line.

 

We wrote everything down in the record books

but the numbers didn’t look like much

 

because we’d stopped feeling

like we were the ones who counted.

 

When the floodwaters rose up

we sank back down to the bush

 

with the weka

and the powelliphanta snails

 

and the katipo

clinging to waterlogged webs

 

and peketua, paddling,

holding up their heads.

*Flood was first published in Atlanta Review (New Zealand) Spring/Summer 2017 and is republished here with kind permission of the editor.

 

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