© Tom McILveen

Winner, 2019 Serious Section Silver Quill, State Championships, Toodyay WA.

In the hills of Pappinbarra, there was once a sacred jarrah
growing eastward of the Great Dividing Range.
It’s been withered, parched and battered and then broken down and scattered
by the hands of time and stormy winds of change.

It  has  suffered deprivation, famine, drought and dehydration
from a thousand blazing suns and raging fires.
It has seen the bush advancing, while the Koori tribes were dancing
to appease their Gods’ insatiable desires.

In the days before Eingana, Rainbow Serpent and Goanna,
there was nothing here but desert, rock and sand.
Then the Goddess of the mountains had created streams and fountains
to revitalise this parched and barren land.

So it came to be that later, given form by their creator,
that the first of Earth’s inhabitants appeared.
They were sent to Pappinbarra with a seed of sacred jarrah,
to be cultivated, nurtured and revered.

Soon the tree had thrived and flowered and its canopy had towered
high above the bushland reaching for the sun.  
It had spread and propagated till the forest was created
from the wilderness where Dreamtime had begun.

In the forest there were creatures with extraordinary features
they’d inherited from prehistoric spore.
Some were bold and rainbow feathered, others timid, grey and weathered
by those winds and blazing suns from days of yore.

There were frogs and snakes and spiders and nocturnal squirrel gliders,
and of course the wallabies and kangaroos.
In the foliage around them, as if trying to astound them,
were the pink galahs and screeching cockatoos.

Then the white-man came and plundered and the Koori Gods had wondered
why he trampled, desecrated and destroyed.
He had left the forest bleeding and the Koori tribes receding
from the pristine paradise they’d once enjoyed.

He had gorged himself and squandered as his progeny had wandered
far afield in search of misbegotten gains.
The koalas dozed and dithered as the Rainbow Serpent slithered
down the mountain side in search of new terrains.

Now today in Pappinbarra, there’s a stand of sacred jarrah
that’s as primitive as prehistoric man.
Though the locals will defy it and authorities deny it –
I believe it’s where the Dreamtime first began.

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