white space

By | 1 May 2021

memories of mother hands cool on skin
soft love not for bruising

current steep reading words and stories
Goenpul woman Arrernte poet Gomeroi scholar

blistering epic daily humming histories
each story its own

ordinary love conversation
but common refrain mother to child:

‘be careful of white women’

[protest: I am not one of those: they are not me]
[hold the words: don’t spit: let them coat my gums]

melt the looking glass that has shaped this body
let ‘me’ slide from my tongue

writing that speaks into white space pages
an invitation are you listening

holding notes that have vibrated
in bones for centuries

what we inherit can be so quiet
it takes another voice to dial the volume up

reading stories to peel back
skin of the past

ordinary love conversation
my mother to me

‘be careful when crossing the street
driving a car walking on your own at night’

in our household
where three white girl women lived

we didn’t talk about power
and bodies

actions of ancestors that moulded
where we stepped

no mention of
[raised to be kind but—]
[is silence violent or merely careless]

talk was sports bodies
‘I saw Evonne Goolagong play!’

‘Isn’t she brilliant—Cathy Freeman!’
no need to be schooled about

how women might— harm—
to stay safe from— bodies like—

writing is re-writing
an invitation are you listening

how to trace the imprints of
this ordinary body

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