The river is low. We walk upstream
on slippery green algae or black beds of pine needles;
still there are dark brown spreads under fallen boughs
where the flow has cut into the earth, and enough water
to have to lift my skirts to wade in the wake of the dogs
who hunt as one, harry water dragons, until they confront
a macho kelpie on the bank stood stiff-legged
as the sniffing commences. Hey Bro! his owner calls to us,
in a voice thick with booze. What’s your name, Bro?
Hey, sweetie, what do they call you?
Hair striped in orange and peroxide he sways
while his mate, sober, older, emerges from the shade
to ask if we have seen any fish or eels further down?
They’re my traditional food, Bro, this is my hunting place.
Around his feet flap a midden of Kentucky Fried shards.
We have seen big fish jump trying to get to deep pools
before the stream dries up, have been surprised to put
our feet on creatures of such size. How do you catch them?
His eyes gleam With a lure, wiggle it in the water, net
him, Bro; but the eels, I kill them with my hands.
The dogs break their circle and separate, ritual done; we follow,
on to the last deep hole; have a nice day, Bro in our ears as we
splash along to where the Brogo joins, feel mud ooze between
our toes. In the green slime lies a giant eel’s head, maggoty,
a ribbon of skin looping the backbone. We can feel its death throes.