James Charlton

(1947 - / Melbourne / Australia)

Truganini’s Soliloquy - Poem by James Charlton

I have known Earth’s texture
like another skin.
All my life I have seen
the unseen entities. Each one
reflects a light beyond colour,
a light which paints
all colour into being.

When I was young, a white man
came to my shelter.
He’d heard the night-chorus,
but complained he couldn’t sleep,
having failed to hear the song behind the noise.
And when the new-created light
quivered through the slattings,
and shoals of eucalypt leaves
waved their shadows over us,
he wanted blinds, curtains.

I think he only saw Earth’s foreground -
his eyes roving for quarry.

The white men broke our circle,
which stretched outwards, like the sky’s vastness.
Their leaders thought we needed to be overseen.
If I’d known their words, I would’ve said:

You have lost the all-embracing song
which nurtures the past
into the future. You have failed
to see the All-Encompasser:
One who inhabits the wind,
without being it; One who dwells
within the cutting grass, but isn’t botanical.

The overseeing continues.
Pink heath is burnt; blackwoods cut down.
This is how the white man makes a garden.
Someone has planted ‘hydrangeas’
in front of where I live,
saying: ‘If the sun gets hot,
please cover them with an old sack.’

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Poem Submitted: Wednesday, May 23, 2012

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