The Naming Of Rivers

Some anonymous year before electric light
they gathered on crumbly banks
bossing gleaming natives.
Loud and long they questioned
by sign and sand-writ plan
what name they had given these tumbling waters.
(Me Wilkins -tap-tap on his hot head)

Ignoring folklore, religion, landscape
fevered trekkers baptised the mighty flow
in honour of some sedentary permanent secretary,
sketched in ink a dark, romantic scape then
pressed on
in search of new places.

They found old places
carved out before the time of naming of rivers,
before empires and race and masters.
And when they died by candlelight,
(or by no light at all)
their travels and travails,
their ogling misadventures were misremembered
by old men of forty
laughing by light of bushfires.

by James Mills

Comments (1)

Riveting piece, James - well done!