A journal of art + literature engaging with nature, culture, the environment & ecology

Flood Season, Jakarta

Khairani Barokka, Indonesia

When the brown tongue of water

rises up to meet us here,

the house will be gone.

While inside the minds of islanders—

cushioned on the hills

of this sinking spectacle

of cardboard, blood, roads

twisting on each other like yarn

and neon, the flash of a

smile for the cameras,

journeys for food,

immune to eviction,

the rasping grey of the air—

we will be none.

Specks of paper floating

and mooring to the curb,

collecting under a tent

and against the grate.

While inside us,

we will never have felt

more present in the world

nor deadened, alive to the whims

of rivers and the sea, and bare.

Meaning bolts itself to hunger,

like the promise of fleshy

endless layers in a rice grain,

soft, half-fermenting, caught

under the folds of a nail.

Into our dreams will seep slowly,

until soaked with them,

paddy fields withered with drought,

or heavy and drowned; pebbles and glass

under trucks rushing manic to the capital,

bringing and wresting, oil drums, men,

boxes of ginger candy, forests of logs,

chairs made of water hyacinths.



Reprinted with permission.

Published in Rope (Nine Arches Press, 2017), first published in The Poetry Review.

Khairani Barokka is a writer, poet, and artist, who has presented work extensively in thirteen countries, and has received six residencies and multiple grants. Among her honours, she was an NYU Tisch Fellow, and is a UNFPA Indonesian Young Leader Driving Social Change. Okka is creator of shows such as Eve and Mary Are Having Coffee, and most recently co-editor of Stairs and Whispers: D/deaf and Disabled Poets Write Back (Nine Arches), author-illustrator of Indigenous Species (Tilted Axis), and author of poetry collection Rope (Nine Arches). She is a Visual Cultures PhD Researcher at Goldsmiths and can be found at http://www.khairanibarokka.com/

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