an Aotearoa poetry journal | ISSN 2744-3248

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Tarot #07
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Tarot #05
Tarot #04
Tarot #03
Tarot #02
Tarot #01

The Lament of the Aral Sea

Once I was so vast you could not see from edge
to edge, you could not sail across in a day.

Now I am a shrunken excuse of a sea, withered
and parched like a leaf on a dying tree.

Littered on my beaches are not shells but skeletal
carcasses of boats marooned in dust.

You drank me dry. You drained me for your melons
and your cotton, bartering white gold

for the lives of all the fish who swam in my waters
all the muskrats who burrowed in my wetlands
of all the birds who nested on my shores.

And now you say I’m nature’s error,
a sea without enough water to weep.
I am a casualty
of your cruelty, but you shrug your shoulders,
and rename me desert.