Published 26 May 202326 May 2023 · Fiction / Friday Fiction Fiction | garramilla/Darwin Lulu Houdini We sit in East Point Reserve and look at how the gidjaas, green ants, make globe-like homes out of the leaves — connected edges with fibrous tissue that I later learn is faithful silk. Safe inside. Why isn’t it safe outside? I pick up the plastic around this circular lake cause this is the way I can landcare, care land. Tend to the space and picture that I insert myself into, then stretch my legs out on the grass once we find the right spot. Visitor. The old Larrakia originals watch me do so from the sky places and the bottom of the lake, even though I told them from the plane that I promise to tread lightly and quietly. This is one of the only gazes I’m comfortable with these days; the watching from eyes that see me. Shade from the branches make the patterns of afterbirth, the placenta, onto the grass and here I am a stencil of everything. I wonder if their roots, concealed by earth, match the patterns of their arms and their shadow. We lay next this big old lake. My friend is speaking. I’m listening and feeding it all into what I’m making with my hands. My ears become my fingers. My hands have always known the things that move them. I’m weaving the same little grass circle I made in January that went into the fire in June. I wonder where this circle is destined to go. I could make it a twin and hang them from my ears, but like that other circle, this one can’t be made again the same. The difference between that lomandra loop and this rafia loop is that this one has been spun with two women’s stories of closure. The other was spun with a hint of dawn – so easy to do when you’re in a place like that. I leave her with the circles. I leave my welling memories on land so I can go to float. The lake floor is cold, silk and silt between my toes . I couldn’t wait a minute longer to get into the water on a day like today when sweat drips down my ribcage and there’s a pressing from the borders of my skin. Begging to be broken into. I float and think of clearings and not at all of crocs and I let the water hold me for as long as I need to in the way that I need. I try to touch the ground, all the while stirring up more mud. Never been too good at soft landings. I ponder the anatomy of grace, all the while. The birds we mistake for eagles are black kites, fire stick birds. These kites literally carry flames. They can manipulate fires. They help take the top off to sustain another layer underneath and I think about how I know that well. I remember that white smoke is a good thing. These kites compel a dry tropical savanna to ash. They commence the long wait for the brimming monsoon. Watching them liberates my work mind to slow and familiar cycles where everything that is worth it is waited for. Fire is not only started by lightning and humans. I’m still tripping and dripping and I come to join her on the shore where we’re laying on the grass. The placenta shadows almost reaching us now even though we’re held by them underneath. I ask that old, beautiful sun to warm me back up. Darwin knows how to do that. I draw daisies with my nurse’s pen on the high-side curve of my side-laying hip; cruise the brown skin that’s turning red and is punctuated with old stretch marks. ‘Frontline Hero’ wraps the labelled curve of the pen reminding me I no longer am. The scars that wrap the hills of my hips remind me that I was. I trace the daisies I picture in my mind onto my skin; let the blue ballpoint roll across me as I draw hibiscus, leaf, frangipani, daisy. I think about everything that’s waiting for me at home when I get back. Thankfully it’s hard to do, cause the black kites keep demanding my attention. They remind me of catching fire in winter. All in all, I am content. These coming and goings are just the backdrop to what’s really happening here on this Country. An entire territory, simplified by the demands of living on this land. A people, devoted to belonging to what they belong to. A complexity and a non-balance here that I am painfully aware of. And a dear friend in front of me, remembering to forget about the outside cause the inside matters more. And then there’s me, healing in the top end through the sediment of what I did and didn’t ask for. The lion at the gate told me to belong to what I belong to. And certain as the sky I belong to the singing wildflowers, but I just need some silence. I could use some rain. A Darwin dry season brings tears to dry hearts. A monsoon buildup tension mimics a magnetism I knew. We could both do with some rain. Lulu Houdini Lulu Houdini is a proud Gamilaraay/Gomeroi woman, storyteller, artist, nurse and birth worker. She creates and explores around connections with poetry of land, sea, sky, story. The main themes she explores are culture, climate, texture, Country, Aboriginal identity and traditional language, womanhood, sensuality, love and finding our way back home to the guniimara, the mother's hands. She currently lives, works, plays and creates on Kabi Kabi/Gubbi Gubbi/Jinibara Country, Sunshine Coast. More by Lulu Houdini Overland is a not-for-profit magazine with a proud history of supporting writers, and publishing ideas and voices often excluded from other places. If you like this piece, or support Overland’s work in general, please subscribe or donate. Related articles & Essays First published in Overland Issue 228 5 May 202315 May 2023 · Friday Fiction Fiction | Pieface Victoria Manifold The last Pieface in the state had closed its doors; not even a concession at a servo remained open. This is it, I thought, the golden age is at an end, it’s all drying up now, no one will ever prosper again. An echo rang out—a small pop as if someone had taken a pin to the thin membrane covering a void—the bubble had burst. 2 First published in Overland Issue 228 14 April 202318 April 2023 · Fiction Fiction | Spare key Nicole Melanson Tayla placed the cap back on the permanent marker and swivelled her foot around. When light shone directly on the shoe, you could see the difference in colour but otherwise the ink matched well. She’d get another couple of weeks out of that patch before it needed touching up again.