The Dark Clearing

Here is the shady clearing
of honour and farewell,
here the Noonuccal, neighbours,
and visitors off the ferry.
Here the piling of branches
long home for her large life
hailed now a hero.
Funeral games are on promise:
the sorry pronouncements,
the treaty, true amity,
the intermingling.
Here is the woman abased
who spoke from a high place
found words against hate,
who denying suspicion
and separation
harbored laws for living.
Curlew, cousin, have you called
the three nights’ warning?
Yet this is no death –

Flowers are scattered
words uttered
the body passes.
Poet and teacher
her place murmurs of her
in sea-winds the surf
mounting the beaches
down to the dire rip
of Jumpinpin,
The leaf-thick paths
the shadowy glade
the glancing lights
of bark-shedding bush
are the smile of the girl
named for paperbark,
who saw beyond the going
to the growing back
to amity achieved
always the people meeting
at the Round House
at the Sitting Down Place

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