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Article
Category
Poetry

Poetry | Heal Country

If I wrote a letter to my Country, how would it read?

Dear Bundjalung Jugun,

Or Dear Yuwinj Dhari?

 

Will she forgive you and me for discrepancies of the anthropocene lately?

Because it took too many ancestors before you and I to arrive.

 

And wisdom belongs not to me,

but to the old man that plants a tree,

Of which its shade he’ll never sit underneath.

 

I only speak truth and of no new philosophy,

And I’m growing tired of repeating the words Heal Country.

 

When today we live in a place where one Dark Emu can’t walk through a plain of murnong & burning circles –

– without dying of thirst but first stripped naked & told he’s not Biribaan,

Not worthy of calling himself emu.

 

When today for one of us to choose her, over power & money,

Or to choose truth, over paradigms lined with lies.

We dismember their name and body, and refute their claim to sovereignty.

Whatever that word may mean.

 

Days will go by and the words Heal Country will still echo,

Few who choose to linger in this echo will find themselves alone,

‘Til the next Blak week swings around,

Or the next Blak trend snatches the nation’s attention.

 

Where Country made me there’s a ceremony ground piling with dead leaves,

So much I lit a cultural fire at my doorstep, so my feet wouldn’t bleed.

And if this colony is a house, it’s doorstep is where I sleep.

 

I keep checking it’s mailbox to find this letter to my Country,

Stamped in red ink: Return to Sender.

 

Or, maybe I’ll just print my heart on a letter,

Stamped in red ochre: Return to Ancestor.

 

Overland is a not-for-profit magazine with a proud history of supporting writers, and publishing ideas and voices often excluded from other places.

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Dakota Feirer is a Bundjalung-Gumbayngirr man based in Dharawal and Yuin country on the south coast. Since graduating from an honours degree at the University of Wollongong, Dakota has consulted for NITV, the Art Gallery of New South Wales and AIATSIS. He is carving a path as an independent researcher, educator and advocate for cultural sovereignty and progressive warriorhood.

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Comments

  1. I loved this poem but it made me feel even more a stranger to myself. Where did I come from? What is/was my tribe? So many questions to even find the beginning.. small consolation probably, but Dakota has a place that he knows is home.. even if home is not what it was… For Australians like me who came from another place which was also not my ancestral place, I am so far removed from ‘place’, so far from ‘home’. Who am I? That is the question…

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