© Brenda Joy

Winner, 2020 Inaugural Muddy River Written Competition, Logan Queensland.

By light of dawn
the rays of morn
come creeping, seeping, sweeping.
Amid the saline sediment I thrive.
My swampy habitat becomes alive.
with pops and squelches signalling the day’s
awakening.  Diverse crustaceans graze.
Pneumatophores* out-reach from sand surrounds.
Within this eco-system life abounds —
soft touched by light of dawn.

The rushing sea,
astounding, sounding, pounding,
secured by clinging fingers I retard
the cyclic tidal movement.  Strong, I guard
my tropic coastal realm against the surge
of energetic waves. Around the verge
of continent and island shores I give
a sheltered refuge where my wards can live
beside the rushing sea.

With reach of sun
new day’s begun,
defining, shining, twining,
highlighting hidden feed beds.  I remit
intruding kingfishers that blithely flit
among my canopy of citrus green,
and honeyeaters darting in between
my gnarled and wrinkled branches scarred by age.
Ah yes! I’ve witnessed much on Nature’s stage —
revealed with reach of sun.

In noon-time’s light
I view the blight,
ensnaring, staring, glaring.
Across the bay my system’s been reclaimed;
marinas for estates rise unashamed.
The distant blare of raucous, Man-made world
disturbs my peace – development’s unfurled
pollutant refuse. When the tide abates,
unsightly, washed-up debris infiltrates
exposed in noon-time’s light.

As dusk descends
and night extends,
embalming, charming, calming,
the gentle breeze that rustles through my leaves
stirs memories as dreamtime inter-weaves
with fragile hopes that peace of seasons past
will be regained and Mangrove realms will last.
I’ve witnessed through the ages, now I pray
that Man may find a less destructive way
to live – as dusk descends.

*pneumatophores — used in this context for those breathing/oxygen-seeking roots which grow upward in saline mud flats.