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Mallee

 

Eucalyptus myriandena
Narembeen

                                                                                                

~ Written on Noongar Country with Noongar translations informed by Ballargong Custodian, David Collard.

 
She knew them first by their sound
my mother in her child’s body turning, ear cupping
a strange land’s tongue
 
my mother in her child’s body turning
a strange new land, its speaking
leaf-shift, the gentle roaring
as dry wind moves across plain
 
she knew them first by their sound
leaf-shift a dry wind moving
land’s tongue a gentle roaring
the day her father bought the farm
 
her father bought the farm
place of the mallee leaf lifting
home of the mallee fowl nesting
ears cupping a strange land’s tongue
 
Nyoongar budja, Ballardong budja
sound of a strange land speaking
Narembeen – place of the mallee fowl scratching
named in a strange land’s tongue
 
place of a strange bird nesting
men from the camp are clearing
tree became a mountain forming
after her father bought the farm
 
tree became a mountain forming
the roots of the mallees piling
by Nissen hut, roof bright-shining
curved like a rolling swell
 
no-one saw the ember straying
the day her brother did the burn-off
by the hut with the rooftop rolling
the woodpile’s mounting flames
 
the day her brother did the burning
tree-ember’s secret glowing
under night stars all bright-shining
over roof curved like a rolling swell
 
under night stars all bright-shining
the mountain slowly forming
became a lit sun brilliant-burning
as the mallees began to roar
 
he knew them by their sound
my uncle under night sky turning
my uncle in his man’s body turning
ear cupping a strange land’s tongue
 

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