Carina Griffen



action, at last, is a mania.

i open up lilypapers blooming on the side of the library building and the man

emptying the bins stops to have a chat.

“they’ve got their fingers everywhere”, he says, I nod,

and the sun glows brighter. we are terrified and inevitable.

social media doesn’t give us a goddamned thing

but the union reposts the rally and possibilities that died in our parents’ twenties are alive, again, thrumming, ravenous, and gnawing at the bit,

it’s the shift where not acting becomes acting, waking into rising, dread and fear and anger coalescing into

something beautiful and dangerous. I make coffee. I write my stupid essays. I have no words for the feeling that I cannot take out on the world i am fighting to save.

the bureau declares an el niño. we’re wearing short sleeves in September. my heart is a hot and agitated thing and i’ve drank four shots of co-op coffee,

even when i haven’t. i pull weeds out of the sand on a beautiful, desolate beach. start to believe my own empty platitudes, the reassurances i tell my little sister when she asks

what university has been teaching me about the environment. someone will do

something. i crack jokes about administrations long dead by my birthday.

we remember the way it feels to push into the world with fingers in wet clay, the pyrenees dirt after droughtbreak. angels of wattle sing to me in whale voices, long and mourning, deep and soothing and wide-eyed. i am gifted with the way the world pushes back: like a balance exercise when you’re a dirt-nailed child when you stand on someone else’s unsurety,

on the sturdy meat of someone else’s thighs. becoming one stranger in gravity’s eyes.

four years ago, in lanky pimpled bodies and before the world shut down, Authority told us we should get off the streets

and learn about extraction and distillation. geology, cruelty. coal held in (parliament) (a frightened shaking fist).

so i did, studied through the drop-outs and the lock-downs

and the high school suicides

finally got myself into a seventies brick building in the state capital, bachelor’s degree sitting shiny in my future. and the T.A. shows me how calcium carbonate (that’s limestone, maker of spotlights and metaphors and history)

weeps in acid rain. how shells and stalactites corrode away, and oceanbones crumble. why this process spews yet more noxious carbon dioxide, hot wax stamps of despair. why this cycle is vicious and why the children were right

and why someone should get back on the streets.

i listen to the billy bragg and midnight oil and yothu yindi of my childhood

and a city professional with a phd (years away from the dried-up frogs, years away from the dry expanse of february ‘09) helps me print

protest flyers. in colour a3,

(so screw everyone that told us we knew nothing).

my dad liked the music but i was a lyrics girl, and paid attention well.

i’m making my own blacklist so someone will write our names down

you’re welcome ——s, and i stick it up with tape and scissors on a too-hot september-spring night.

summer is coming and everyone i know is scared.

summer is coming. i help out in the garden. i walk to class. we prise something out of the twentieth century and plant it like a strawberry seed, giving it all of the water

we soon won’t be able

to afford to waste again. long woollen sleeves. passports in a bag. AM radio.

test the hose. tell me how i can help. tell your local mp to eat their heart out and grow a spine. check the water tank. lose your grip on any hope of salvation, and then ignore every gut instinct you have. hand money to the fireies. give your neighbour a call. give someone a reason to believe again. write an escape plan. write a passion play for everything we’re about to lose. stock up on spare batteries. stock up on righteous anger and its vicious twin.

summer is coming and i’m going to make sure everyone i know is ready. this is nothing corporate and nothing planned it spreads like a fungus. viscous unforgiving blood,

a substance, like the thrill of a hose turned on, setting the

red tape and southeasterlies