Thursday 21 November 2019

A Poem for a Thursday by Melissa Lucashenko

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Sydney has once again woken up shrouded in bush fire smoke. Air quality is very poor and people are being asked to avoid exercising outdoors. It's hot one day, cold and blustery the next. It's hard to breath freely and it's not even summer yet.

Two weeks ago it was the smoke from the fires in northern NSW. This week, fires are blazing to the west of Sydney in the Hawkesbury area.
Sydney will be moving onto level 2 water restrictions in the next week or so (although many areas in western areas have been on level 4 or higher restrictions for months).

The rain forests in Queensland have been burning and catastrophic fire warnings are in place again today for South Australia. Victoria is on high alert as well. It's going to be a long day for the firies.

Perhaps if we thought about the trees as people, with a gender and personality, like the Aboriginal peoples of Australia, we would have found a better way to live with them and take care of them.
I'm trying not to think about the koalas and wombats and possums. The news coming in is just too distressing.

Melissa Lucashenko is an Aboriginal writer of Goorie and European heritage.

She was the winner of the 2019 Miles Franklin Award and the Queensland Premier’s award for a work of state significance for Too Much Lip.

As well as the winner of the 2013 Deloitte Queensland Literary Award for Fiction and the Victorian Premiers Prize for Indigenous Writing for Mullumbimby.

She won the 2013 Walkely Award for Long Form Journalism with her Griffith Review essay, “Sinking Below Sight: Down and Out in Brisbane and Logan”. Lucashenko also writes poems.

This poem caught my eye because my father grew up in the area of Crystal Creek, near the small town of Numinbah. Going for drives to the Natural Bridge and through the valley are part of my childhood memories. It's a beautiful area with a long history.
Small fires went through this area two months ago.

Numinbah Valley in Spring
By Melissa Lucashenko | 1 February 2016 | Cordite Poetry Review

In the Yugambeh there exist three genders: male, female, and a gender used specifically to refer to trees.

Twenty thousand moons shone here upon the People
and twenty thousand more before that
showed themselves crystal in the rushing streams
flanked with green lichened giants, beloved brothers
our other selves who have endured so much

Now the People are few here, and pale
white men came six seconds ago with their bibles and noise
the People left, bleeding
we left, torn from our mother’s arms to be made white

Our tallest selves on this mountain remain, strong and beautiful
Our tallest selves use the wind to speak, asking
Why are we lonely?
Where have our families gone?

Here, I answer, singing them a new song
jarjum yanbelillah mobo
the children of the People will return
goorie jinungilellah numinbah jagan mobo
your other selves will be standing alongside you again tomorrow
we will not cry long; we will not salt the earth of our grandmothers
be happy in your waiting Tall Ones
we are coming
we are coming
we are coming

Natural Bridge or the Nature Arch as we knew it back in the 1970's

Jennifer @Holds Upon Happiness posts a lovely Poem for a Thursday each week. I enjoy sourcing poems from my recent reads to join in with her whenever I can.


  1. Sorry to hear about the fires, must be terrible. So much waste. You are right, we should take care of out places on earth.

  2. I'm so sorry, Brona. It's terrible. I've tried to keep up a little bit with the news.


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