Contemporary Australian Poetry
An Aria, before the Requiem by Richard James Allen
as doctored as the sun by Robert Wood
We cannot list the victims' names, we cannot call it a Massacre
Site or even a Significant Aboriginal Site, the site is only allowed
to be known as a Battle Site.
The wetlands have watermarked her. Rivers
fill her pen. Pinjarra’s lakes and creeks won’t
stay asleep in their own beds. Her pages
are soaked with run-off. She is an inlet
where tides rise and fall, a blue eye drifted
by clouds. The wild goes walkabout through her
notebooks, scattering grain and spores along
the margins. She hears trees shed bark, seed skins
crack and split, tails slithering through sedges.
Fox and heron make her rooms thoroughfares.
Claws scrape dry sand, paws scuffle leaf litter.
She tracks small prints that vanish at the edge
of soft and damp where savoury marsh samphire
is spreading into the corners of poems.
In the morning now she wakes with the scent
of river gums in her sheets. The ink stains
on her pillows are rimmed with salt. Through her
Bilya Maadjit flows transparent as rain,
cold and clear as the first day she entered
it, turning her fluvial, insistent
as blood but deeper than veins, inscribing
her ochre mapping the history of pain.
Under eucalypt branches, the white threads
of stamen stitch tannin water, but this
Kambarang sunlight is leaded with shades
and a silence like sleep leans on the green
terrace where miamias clustered, before
the morning that those musket shots shattered.
She is earth from earth, feels the truth buried
here. Holds her pen like a spade, to disturb
the surface, shovels until nib hits bone
and ground cries out this was a massacre.
Flooded gums have forested the red dirt
on her desk. Their roots, webbed over its edge
and anchored in air, hang in tangled skeins
the way that hair comes loose when women weep
hiding their eyes, covering the babies
that cling to them as they crouch in hollows
beneath the Murray’s banks where she sees them
in watery reflections of trees, their
footholds eroded by time and grief, yet
still alive in the memory of earth.
Previously published in The Lake’s Apprentice (UWAP 2014)
Annamaria Weldon’s latest book The Lake’s Apprentice (UWAP 2014) is a study in essays, poetry and photographs of the Yalgorup Wetlands and Lake Clifton thrombolites. She has two collections of poetry, The Roof Milkers (Sunline Press 2008) andRopes of Sand (Associated News Malta 1984). While Writer-in-Residence at Symbiotica from 2009, Annamaria won the Tom Collins Poetry Prize 2010 and the inaugural Nature Conservancy Australia’s Prize for Nature Writing 2011. Weldon is a founding member of OOTA and in 2013 was made a Fellow of the Fellowship of Australian Writers W.A. A former journalist, she has been writing for publication since 1978. Her creative work has been published in anthologies and journals including the Australian Book review, Westerly and Island, and broadcast on ABC’s ‘Short Story’ program, and RN’s ‘Poetica’