Severe Weather Warning

Rohan Buettel

Rain falls from the sky in torrents.
Bulimba Creek has broken its banks.
The water streams across the park
and rages in the creek as if each drop
is in a desperate race to be the first
to reach the sea. It pools against the back
of my sister’s house after gushing down
the hillside, and begins to seep through walls.
I bail water from trenches with a bucket;
port it from council bins positioned below
the lowest point of shade cloth where it collects
and drips; pouring it down the laundry sink.
I clear the leaves blocking outer drains
and the pools begin to abate; scoop water up
and throw it down the side of the house.
Stop for a while and see the bins half-emptied
with a pail full again; towels soaking up
the creeping menace in the downstairs room,
lifted and spun in the machine while
replaced with others. Water of life it’s said,
birds on the balcony too bedraggled
to leave when a human comes close, the mynahs
stop their chirruping, the butcherbird’s song
silenced by wet. They tolerate my presence,
the rain too heavy to fly away.
Instead, accept the anxiety, sacrifice
the customary social distance.
Creatures in common cause, braced
against the elements.

Rohan Buettel lives in Canberra, Australia’s capital city. His haiku have been published in various Australian and international journals (including Frogpond, Cattails and The Heron’s Nest). His longer poetry most recently appears in The Elevation Review, Rappahannock Review, Penumbra Literary and Art Journal, Mortal Magazine, Red Ogre Review, Reed Magazine, Meniscus and Quadrant.

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