Contemporary Australian Poetry

An Aria, before the Requiem by Richard James  Allen

as doctored as the sun by Robert Wood

The Memory of Earth

by AnnaMaria Weldon

 

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.

 

 

1

 

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.

 

2

 

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.

 

3

 

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’

http://www.annamariaweldon.com.au

http://uwap.uwa.edu.au/products/the-lake-s-apprentice