Sunday, November 1, 2015

CAMPFIRE AT TJUKULA













The foot of the wedge-tail eagle
presses against the sky, littered with
spears.  The night is so clear you can
hear the Seven Sisters scream
in the dark, chased by that Old Man,
by that greedy one who
would take them all for wives.
In Scorpio, two lovers unable to separate,
run for their lives,  pursued by Waputju –
the girl’s father – & by the guardian
of the circumcision ceremony.
The boomerang flying to kill them
explodes in a cloud of tears.
Old Tutama prods the fire with his stick
& waits for my reply.
“Whitefella way, different way,”
I tell him.  Stories of Black Holes,
Schr√∂dinger’s cat, the Big Bang,
one hundred eighty-six
thousand miles per second…
“You see that star?” I say.
“It might’ve blown up before
you were born, but its light
is still coming towards us.”
Tutama reaches for a lump
of bush tobacco behind his ear,
rolls it quietly between dry palms.
Skin warm, stomach full,
not wanting to disturb the universe,
he accepts what I say
with the dignity of a man
who understands how a whitefella
will tell you almost anything.

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