nest (becoming-penguin)

By | 1 February 2019
a spirit jumping from the back of a falling star 
onto a baby as it’s being born
gives the baby its breath and spirit

that’s how Murrawarri man, Fred Hooper, tells it
in a yarning circle of land and justice
this winter past, we were
on Gadigal land
never ceded, never ceded

and although this was not my story 
in its telling Uncle shares vital learning
about belonging
to place, to country, to ancestors
and to the future



bending to collect a stone with her beak
she unfolds, fins synching 
to Spring’s snap crackle pop
plink pinky pebble 
build a nest of quartz 

journeying across the ice 
she passes the grave of her great-grandmother
a womb of emperor purple velvet
garlanded with emu feathers from Kupa Piti
passes the bluestone mound 
where her grandmother had buried her placenta, 
brother’s too

shuttling back and forth 
between quarry and cradle 
she heads toward a future present 
bound with the past imperfect



robber Adélie makes a beak-line to this labour of lode
indolent ingrained in-veined habits of theft
captured by the famous naturalist’s panoptic eye
the stealing of another’s home makings
recast as no more than a ‘cheeky’ act



on this patch of clay
in an invisible glade
shaded by old hills 
with witch of Agnesi curves 
it’s where her father was conceived
she also, and later, her brother

here her grandfather’s and great-grandfather’s ashes 
abide in linen cupboard limbo
wrapped in Corsican cloth
waiting to be returned to the earth
(when all has been forgiven)

then they too can join the skulls of our familiars
generations of non-human companions 
who some nights dig themselves out
shaking off the magic dirt
to give us dream counsel 

here the dispossessed have disappeared 
into plain sight 
a diaspora so often scattered far from home, 
far from the bones of its peoples

’Can I have another bone,’ she asks, 
momentarily becoming-human



my home, her home
on stolen land
Kaurna land
never ceded, never ceded

our ash and fat
our blood and bones
our bush wees
our shadow trees
all that we have 
all that we do
all on stolen land



does a spell exist for undoing this?
to shift time and come in the right way
and, like a good guest
leave before welcome is outstayed, or
forge new forms of respectful reciprocity

she and I, we consult the ruins
and cast new hexes
summoning all our mothers, grand and great 
dispossessed 
and driven mad
abandoned
alone
fed by visions, yearning for
Paradise on Earth

she and I, robbers both
stones in our beaks,
seek out accomplices
in networks of nest work
to join the struggles
to repair and restore
relations and land
homes, hearths, hearts

never ceded, never ceded 
never ceded
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