States of Poetry 2016 - Western Australia | ‘There is No One to Complain’ by J.P. Quinton

I walk to the river,
I am searching,
I am searching for a jar of leeches.
In the distance I see something flashing
so I head toward it.

As I come closer I see
it's a mirror dangling from a tree,
and beneath it, a table with six sealed jars.

I open a jar, stick my finger inside
pull it out –
blood slides down my arm.

I feel the sharp clutch of a hand on my shoulder,
I turn and see a woman's
face covered in mud,
she points across the water
and says if I want my own leeches
I have to swim
to the opposite bank.

I strip my body of clothes
– pause for a moment –
enter the water, and swim.

In the murk I stop,
put my head up, I'm half way
the water is colder at my feet,
I can sense the muddy floor beneath
my arms ache, my head is numb,
I look back and see the mirror flicker
there is no one to complain,
I see my face on the surface
the river rocks and I wonder why I'm here.


J.P. Quinton