Copyright is held by the author.


The blue heron lives here.
I can hear the beating of her wings,

my mother hissing —
remember who you are.

I stuffed myself with wild plums
before I waved goodbye.

I never really left.

My children’s pockets
are weighed with river rocks — 

not the shrapnel from my hill.
I cannot explain

how words become weapons,
good soil uranium-235

and I whisper
never forget who you are —

without a clue what this means.
The blue heron lives here

waiting patiently for her kill.
One day she lays her pale

blue eggs, shakes her plumage
over fen and moss.

I have not seen her since.

They often end up in the river

Syringes, tires, petroleum, vinyl         records of the human heart.
They often end up in the river            tangle on the shoreline,
consumed by fungi, bottom-feeders, alien ships
we never thought are waiting.

They outlive us by millions of years, or just
a millisecond: genetically modified pears, Styrofoam, uranium-235.
Ashes end up in the river too, for the fires on the landfill sites
are always burning

and this is how memories collide —
and sphagnum into lists of all we left between us:
faded photographs, toothbrushes, oh, and that pair of red slippers
you gifted me — two months before you walked away.

In fact, everything glowing inside a woman’s body
(no less than the blueprint for the rest of life)
ends up in the river too —
on its way out to the open sea.

Signs of our absence

We had no issue with the ants
until we left.

Somehow expecting it all
to stay the same

we did not bother
wrapping things in plastic.

Now the powdery excrement
could be sea-salt,

or freshly fallen snow.
We never considered

how such a small thing
could steal our memories

a deck of cards, wool socks,
an old photograph —

scars of our absence
in thin black lines

marching in —
and marching out.

We lay the flowers
gently over stones

that no one tends.
Wash our hands

after visiting the dead.
We waited so long

the world began
to consume itself —

so long we could not face
coming home again.

But we did.

Hold on

Significant leaching happens
between horizons.

Soil erodes to bone,
gold contaminates root-tissue,

toxic-debris accumulates
as unmetabolized feelings

in muscle-memory.
Memories sphagnum

into lists of all that we left
between us

porously unselfing,
delicately mitigating

the radioactive leaching
of uranium-235.

When all the wild rivers
have been dammed

syringes float peacefully
along the river Drina.

We drink our walnut brandy
without touching.

Hold onto the strings of moss splitting blue springs
from the Eramosa River, where two liquid arrows

fly out to the open sea and millions of insects’ 
pulse and drift into their deepest shadow —

and to the tiny house on the river Drina
sinking to the bottom of the riverbed.

Hold onto everything that passes — before it was even there
to begin with — this is the final dance.


Image of Katarina Vuckovic

Katarina is a poet and writer of fiction. She lives by the Eramosa River in Ontario with her husband and two girls, where she spends most of her time in the woods running wild with Village loom, a nature connection program for children. She loves coffee and nettles.