There are no platypus under the bridge again today.
It’s the fourth week in a row and we all ask each other
Instead of ‘hello’, “Seen any platypus?” — hopeful
And each time, it’s “Not today… not for a while…”
None of us know whether it’s sea­sonal, but we all fear
It’s the cli­mate, it’s the end-times, that they’ll never
return

Rahana walks her dogs every morning, rapid, brusque.
She’s looking for ants, she says, but they’re all gone.
There used to be thou­sands of them, every­where.
What’s happened to them? All the insects are dying.
This summer, we swatted away hardly any flies
The bees were just har­bingers, canary-analogues.

On the river, plaintive ducks call to one another.
Kooka­burras cackle and cock­a­toos screech.
We find a pigeon chick on the path, and the dogs
Nose at it. It nestles into my hands and we take it
To bright-light overly-efficient vets, fill out
Paper­work in trip­licate and it is sum­marily
Whisked away without an oppor­tunity
For the 10 year old to say goodbye.
We’ll never know whether it is “humanely euthanased”
or placed with trained wild­life carers but
This has felt more like a trans­ac­tion
Than a rescue and we are more dis­con­nected
From home than ever before.

We chase rumours of wom­bats off the path.
Walk the dogs that way instead of the usual route.
To the left of the bridge, maybe. One of the dudes
From Odyssey House said he saw one down there
Yes­terday morning. He was sit­ting on the stone steps
Next to the Yarra, nursing a beer at 9am.
It’s dusk. We don’t see any wom­bats.

Our chil­dren are marching for the cli­mate in two days time,
Skip­ping school. She says, “maybe write some­thing on your poster
About the local envir­on­ment?” and the nine-year-old responds,
“No, mum, this is global,” and she draws the world and beneath it
“They’ll go in a blink, don’t let them sink…”

The air is thick with smoke. The creek is sud­denly cloudy.
The sky is red and pink and the wind whips through the trees.
We don’t even bother going to the bridge
To look for platypus.