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Sinead Overbye

The River

it starts with a drip
drop down
a trickle it starts

with a tear —just one

another & then

i’m gone melting




it’s a cliché i know —i don’t care— it’s kind of genuine
it’s kind of the most honest i’ve ever been
look what’s become of me —i’ve lost my face
my hands my arms
my entire body
i’m losing my mind —maybe—
for a girl who doesn’t love me

here’s how it began:

we sat together in an empty flat
scrubbing the marks of our year off the walls but not speaking
it’d been too long for words to matter anymore

i put the last of my belongings in two shoeboxes
she said she didn’t want to stay with me the night

she said i can’t do this anymore it’s not your fault
i’m thinking about our future
i’m thinking of a future you without me a me without you
remember that time we went to that party
you left halfway through a conversation to go buy cigarettes
that was embarrassing & remember when you started yelling at me
in our bedroom when all the flatmates could hear
that was embarrassing too & when you never forgave me
for the bad thing i did it felt like you were trying
to make me depressed

& that’s how it happened
things changed —they always do—
she left with a bag of dirty cleaning cloths

& i cried in the kitchen because
that’s how i cope
i have watery eyes always waiting
for something to overflow about

when i was a child i cried about everything—
loud noises from the neighbours’ backyard or losing my scarf
in the supermarket or the muppet movie
set in outer space— i was too young to be unafraid but still
too old to be crying at puppets—

& when nan died i cried for days
the sky cried too there was mist rising
from the grass—

& i need to harden up i know i have tried

but already
my body’s
dribbled down
i seem to have melted into myself
to have liquefied i’m being set free

i’m becoming liquid flow

the flow won’t stop i can’t help it i cry
& watch my body melt & then keep crying

i started as a puddle —a little pool of a thing—
in the house on the hill on the kitchen tiles
which we’d just finished cleaning

i was nothing too substantial at first
now i’m growing —flowing— into a kind of stream
rushing down the driveway onto the street
you could place your hand in me feel the water on your palms
hear me speak
—here i am —at last— the water is me—

did you even notice
can you even hear me
above the sound of your loud music

i see you cross at the traffic lights
with headphones in
i want to know if you miss me now i’m gone
look at me

i’m changing fast
watch how
i trickle
drip drop


& it’s kind of fun
to be undone
to become no body

no thing

pouring through streets
where people go for coffee

& you no longer recognise me
i try to wave
but my waters aren’t
big enough yet
for waving

oh & it’s been such a long journey

i’ve grown too big
for this countryside
carving grooves into the earth

i deepen widen
the land ushers me out
towards the sea—

only now am i grateful for the tears

the grass bows down as i pass

the trees tower beside me
the sand sinks

the ocean is calling me home to her

i release you


become the river i was always meant to be

Sinead Overbye (Te-Aitanga-a-Māhaki, Rongowhakaata, Ngāti Porou, Te Atiawa) recently completed an MA in fiction at the IIML. She is currently working and living in Wellington, and is an NZSA mentorship recipient for 2019.