Highly Commended: An Arrival

We came across water

made shore in darkness

woke on sand.


We saw strong  young men, warriors.

They came towards us,

pointed their weapons at us.


They asked us who we were, why we had come. Sat us down on the earth to wait.

They gave us water. We were weak from travel, exhausted.


News spread.


They came, the delegates.

Stern folk who smiled cold like the ones we ran from.

Healers came.

They had travelled overnight to reach us.


The nurses, the doctors

they closed their mouths.


Their lips did not know the shape

of the desperation they saw

in bodies, in faces.


Their hearts did not know the strange

strength of the hope under our flesh.


But their eyes knew the stories of the scars.


Their bones had not known the weight

of those who had died on the journey.


Their hands did not know the shape of

the fears we carried.


But they saw the long shadows stretching out behind us.


They did not understand us,

or we them.


But to hope is to open

and through it we are opened.


So it began.



Image: Brisbane Waters sunset

Grace Lucas-Pennington

Grace Lucas-Pennington is a Bundjalung/European person living on Yugurapul land. She grew up mostly between Bundjalung country on the NSW north coast and the greater Logan/Brisbane area. Grace is currently the Editor for State Library of Queensland’s black&write! Indigenous Writing and Project.

More by Grace Lucas-Pennington ›

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