© V.P. Read
Winner, 2008 ‘Bronze Swagman Award’, Winton Queensland.
An urban Aboriginal who’s never seen the bush;
I grew up in the city with its endless strife and push.
I do not know my heritage, or of my totem lore;
My parents can’t remember tribal stories any more.
Yet, in my soul are yearnings that will never be denied;
My heart is ever haunted by a Dreamtime locked inside.
At night I dream of places where in life I’ve never been,
And dance the ancient dances that before I’ve never seen.
I sit and watch our children playing in a city street
With traffic fumes around them, and hot tar beneath their feet.
There’s hopelessness within me. There is something I must do;
The Spirits never tell me, so I haven’t got a clue.
Somehow, some way, it urges, all these children must go home;
Back to the womb that bore them; places where the ancients roam.
Back to the Brolga Dreaming, and the secret, sacred caves;
Back to their tribal totems, and the Elders’ lonely graves.
I’ve done the white man’s dreaming, and I’ve tried to live their ways,
But mateship’s not extended, and I’m rarely given praise.
My home’s supplied by welfare, who don’t care it’s falling down;
I drive a clapped-out Falcon on my forays into town.
I’ve tried to rise above it, black despair and grim defeat;
The overwhelming sadness in my people when we meet
In parklands near our ghetto, where we talk and laugh and play;
Forgetting for an instant that we live the white man’s way.
I’ve tried the drugs and liquor, but no comfort can be found;
Lost in that dark oblivion that has no sight or sound.
It never stopped the chanting that was thrumming in my brain;
The drone of ancient music that is causing so much pain.
White folk don’t understand it, plagued by strange, compelling dreams
That take me to a strange land; rugged hills and tortured streams.
Back to my Brolga Dreaming; distant land so far away;
Back to the tribal dancing where ancestors stamp and sway.
I ask my old grandfather if he’ll tell me what he knows,
But he cannot remember in his alcoholic doze.
My parents will not tell me of their childhoods dark and grim,
When taken from their gunyahs, authorized by white man’s whim.
They drink to drown their sorrows, and to dull the ancient song
That calls them to their homeland; to the place where they belong.
I’ll find no peace in cities, nor in any place I’ll roam;
For ancients of my Dreaming, all my life, will call me home.