First published at Guy Farmer's Social Justice Poetry.
I walk past water gums,
roots twisting and flowing over rock,
past the creek's eddy and swirl,
past deep grooves in rock
made long ago by sharpening spears.
Is that the laughter of naked children?
No. They are long gone,
now only imagination's shadows
flitting through scrub.
I scramble up a long hill
to stand on a huge expanse of rock.
The world seems quiet and still.
All around in the stone are carvings-
kangaroos, emus, women, men, shields, spears,
a great spirit creature.
I imagine clans of Dharug people meeting here
to dance, laugh, cry, draw, worship, wonder,
and most of all, to belong.
Do I sense them?
That is a lie.
Their culture, life, laughter and song
have shrunk into the past.
They seem long gone.
I lie on the rock and close my eyes.
Underneath my back
are curving patterns in rock.
I see cloud, rain, sun’s rising, sun’s falling, moon, stars,
the diamond quilt of night.
I see people greet, paint their bodies, tell stories, dance, sing,
belong, feel purpose, feel love, draw and carve.
I am filled with loss for the changes of time,
for the tangle of history,
for the injustice of the present,
for prejudice, dislocation, theft and murder,
and I know that where they,
in such deep belonging, did roam,
my ancestors, England’s rejects,
came from the other side of the world
to claim it as their own.
The sun is low.
I begin the long walk back.
As I walk I am moved by the knowledge
that Dharug people are still living,
scattered through the land of their ancestors
and although the past cannot be changed,
its loss and sorrow should be sung.
I am taken too by the crazy dream
of a single people
meeting under these southern stars,
upon the great patterned rock of this land
to draw, dance, embrace and sing together
as I descend into a gully
and the sun disappears
and the single evening star
hangs low in the darkening sky.