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Yanha-mam-birra – Release

This poem is written partially in Wiradjuri.


The space of my emptiness is a chasm so deep so wide
I’ll fall to endless nothing without your words to cross it.

I have starved for you to feed my soul nourish my
blood to strengthen my bones, Ngadhi Bagurany
dhabul (ngadhi bugaray darbhul)
I have craved for the taste of your sound on my
parched lips the drip-drop of your coolness on my
parched palette. dulba nginhu balaba nganda-birra
mugumaga (mucu maga)
Ached for you to speak to sing to sound to shout
release your syllables to the air that I can breathe you
drink you grasp you. murun -wiginya nyal,
yirba-dharra nyal, mulgamarra nyal.
My tongue thick – a heavy cringing prisoner bashed
and battered by two hundred and thirty years of
colonial submission stalls stubborn over your form.
For too long my mouth paid lip-service to English
been a slave to grammar prisoner to punctuation
handmaiden to pronunciations servant of prim
proper and poise.

Life sentence lifted my tongue can liberate my heart
with these words from you
I am Wiradjuri… Badhu Wiradjuri
I am proud… Badhu  Dyiramadilinya
I am here… Badhu Nginha

Go to Jeanine Leane's profile to read more poems