September 2022

Back to Issue 12

on water divining

By Carl Walsh


He divines with a forked stick, following a watercourse

that sings through the hill beneath our house. This is not 

the usual him, this is not tradesman-like, it is not jars 


full of screws, boxes full of nails, the rotary hoe 

that runs on curses as it churns soil in cavorting 

unstable lines. This is him with a forked stick, hand 


on either prong, like he’s breaking a wishbone with himself 

the other end wobbling earthward, tracing some imaginary 

line in his head or in his grizzled hands that know hard work


that are almost always cut and grazed and as hard and as soft 

as timber. His legs plough through the grasses, the clouds 

teary above, as if calling his stick upward to point at the sky. 


When the men come with their truck to spiral the bore 

into the ground, dropping out great swathes of earth 

like archaeologists digging through time, they humour him 


say a creek runs where he said – but down here, in the next 

paddock two streams cross and it’s here we’ll get the best flow.

Dad’s hands are by his sides now, stick flung into the paddock


wheeling under those grey clouds and into the long swaying grass.