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The River

by Susan Virsano

Carmenza was dancing
along the thin edge
of the dug-out canoe.
Her balance was perfect
as it tilted to and fro
or spun in the current.

She cast no shadow
in her dress of coral pink
all laced with dust;
cut down and stitched up
where the buttons should be.

Limbs and roots drifting by
in the mud-laden flood.

The stranger sat on the wharf
with his beard in his book.

‘What are you doing here?’
the girl asked out of the blue.
The man woke from his thoughts.
‘Studying the way people live,”
he said, squinting at the sun.

‘And what do you want to do
with your life?’ he asked,
being friendly.

‘Nothing,’ she replied,
as though it was obvious.
‘I’m going for a piss.’
And, leaping to the shore,
she disappeared in the bushes.


Taken from ‘Roughly Speaking’ (1991), page 27.

Susan Virsano

Anne Wafer