Wednesday, 17 August 2011


Three sonnets for Paul and Sue Armstrong, who’ve taken me to some amazing places.
Come, If you walk with me I’ll show you a place
Near where the Hawkesbury River runs wide and brown.
Into those rugged sandstone ridges we turn
And past lovely trees the track winds gently up and down.
Here’s a spot where we can sit a while.
Huge water gums tower into the sky,
Their roots twisting and flowing over rock
While with eddy and swirl the creek gurgles by.
Look, in those rocks in the stream, deep grooves
Made long ago for sharpening spear or club.
Close your eyes, try to hear the children play,
Or see long gone shadows flit through scrub.
It’s tempting, but in this place we cannot stay.
Our destination is still some distance away.
We’ve turned off the main track, jumped a little creek,
Skirted a pretty pond, scrambled up the hill
Until, at last, we stand on an expanse of rock,
A place where the world seems quiet and still.
It’s hundreds of metres long, wide, not quite flat.
But look, ground into the stone are many features,
Kangaroos, emus, a woman, men, shields, spears,
And further along a great spirit creature.
Then I know that Dharuk people met here
Beneath the stars, or sun, to dance, laugh and cry,
To draw, to worship, to wonder, and to belong.
Do I sense them here, or is that a comforting lie?
Their culture, their life, their laughter and song
Have shrunk into the past and are now long gone.
I lie on the rock. Underneath my back
Like some divinely stamped tessellation
Are great swirling curving patterns in the rock.
I feel connection; wells of strong emotion.
Above my head is the vaulting dome of sky,
Now clear blue but filled with transforming light,
Cloud, rain, sun’s rising, sun’s falling, moon, stars,
The velvet, diamond studded quilt of night.
I hear voices; I see them emerge from bush,
Greet, paint their bodies, tell stories, dance, sing,
Belong, feel purpose, feel love, draw and carve.
Oh how could they see the changes time would bring,
That where they did in such deep belonging roam
England’s rejects would land and claim it as their own.

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