mourning is women’s business

By | 1 May 2017

for Tjama


with a gesture as large as the planet
you call up the spirits of women
tonight you can see them thousands
filling up the country so it is
no longer empty

and lonely as it will be
when you are gone

and the multitudes no longer
dance across the spinifex


you were dancing
a slow skip
in the grand style
wearing a striped pointed hat
and white ochre
all your golden hair
cut to the grey

you go on without them like those
wounded in the leg
dancing towards the embrace of the others
who limping
dance towards you

when the circles of recognition are complete
after days and weeks of sitting in the dust
you can get up wash go home
back to your places of employment

and the free spirit will burst
out of this belly of grief
into the air


when you were young you went to law
childless but free

now the funerals string together
narratives of loss
how hard it is
to think any more of forever

you want private you want
out fold your shirt over your chest
and yourself up to sleep
your stomach hurts
with grief

when you were young and went about your business
who would have thought it would end
covered in white clay in a row of widows
seeing the land losing its people

your stomach hurts
and it’s hard to breathe

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