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After the massacre

  • 03 June 2019


Myall Creek NSW


after the massacre

when we wake to truths

that make our hearts beat fast

walk the blood-red gravel track

that draws us down

to write the story on our heart

needled on our skin

to pin our bones into its frame


and stand

with Milton's fear

for blindness and denial

then grope and touch

the blood-stained earth

with spines of ironbark

and smell the stench of burnt flesh

where only eucalypts should waft


we weep


then truth that quickens

our nation's gut

stirs the country's womb unbirthed

in all its wrench of birthing pangs

rips and tears at every sinew


all we know

there is no going back




in search of history

'did we not know their blood channeled our rivers' — Judith Wright


how do you remember

a day that history clouded

smothered in bleached blankets

and bundled into recesses

dark alcove corners of our nation's history

and dared anyone to lurk there?


know trojan horses

stand all over our country

with their story inside

that bursts to be told

side by side

with every town's war memorial


we go in search of one of those stories


you don't find this place by accident

it's a journey from the coast

drive inland, west as we say

step off your veranda

away from safety and comfort of home.


Myall Creek Reserve

a picnic area to enjoy lunch

and cuppa from our new thermos

no corner shop for many a mile.


the occupants here are stringy barks

eucalypts and grass trees

magpies sing nearby

waiting for our leftovers

and above a solitary blue King-fisher

in the tenement of a large ironbark


a peacefulness halos us

in the distance sheep graze

in a patch of irrigated green

cattle munch


the blood-red gravel path walks us

the Myall Creek Memorial Way

as pilgrims we read each plaque

bow our heads remember

through tears I notice mica glint

from the stunning granite stones

that hold the stations of the story


here is the place of a massacre

finally acknowledged named dated

clutched out of the recesses of memory

and into history


tiny wrens flicker the scrub like sparks of sapphire

ants are at a frenzy

moving thousands of tiny rounded pebbles


the smell of gun powder,

screams of mothers and children

amidst the stringy barks and brown grasslands

above the flowing creek

has stilled

smell of burning flesh is hard to forget

yet when history bursts forth

the birthing pangs sated

trojan horses whimper and collapse




shared history

'History despite its wrenching pain

cannot be unlived,

but if faced with courage,

need not be lived again' — Maya Angelo


there's something in the shining light

that lends itself to thoughts of hope

perhaps it is a brashness — the way it glows

so cheerfully in this cloudless winter time

perhaps the way it dresses up the land

catches blue kingfishers on their wing

festoons the leaves the rocks the trees


today it