Published in Overland Issue The 2018 Oodgeroo Noonuccal Poetry Prize Uncategorized Highly Commended: I am the road Claire G Coleman My grandfather was the bush, the coast, salmon gums, hakeas, blue-grey banskias Wind-whipped water, tea-black estuaries, sun on grey stone My grandfather was born on Country, was buried on Country His bones are Country I am the road. I was born off Country, in that city I hear, less than two-weeks old I travelled Country A bassinet on the back seat of the Kingswood I remember travels more than I remember a home I am the road. My father is the beach, the peppermint tree, the city back when, before it was a city My father is the ancient tall-tree country, between his father Country and that town My father is World War II, his father was a soldier My father wandered, worked on rail, drove trucks I am the road Campgrounds up and down that coast were the childhood home of my heart Where my memories fled, where my happiness lived Campgrounds in somebody else’s stolen country I am the road The road unrolls before me My rusty old troopy wipes oily sweat from its underside on the asphalt Says ‘I am here, I am here’ The engine breathes in, breathes out, pants faster than I can Sings a wailing thundering song Wraps its steel self around me and keeps me safe, a too large overcoat I am the road I slept, for a time, on the streets of Melbourne No country, no home, as faceless as the pavement I was dirt on the streets, as grey as the stone, as the concrete I am the road We showed explorers where the water was They lay their road over our path, from water to water Lay a highway over their road, tamed my country with their highway I am the road My Boodja has been stolen, raped, they dug it up, took some of it away They killed our boorn, killed our yonga, our waitch, damar, kwoka Put in wheat and sheep, no country for sheep my Boodja My Country, most it is empty, the whitefellas have no use for it Except to keep it from us Because we want it back, need it back, because they can I am the road. People ask where I am from, I cannot, simply answer To mob, I am Noongar, South Coast. I am Banksias, wind on waves on stone To travellers, whitefella nomads, I am from where I live – that caravan over there To whitefellas from Melbourne who see how I drink my coffee I must be from Melbourne, I am not Melbourne I am the road One day wish to, hope to, dream, buy some of my grandfather’s country back Pay the thieves for stolen goods Theft is a crime, receiving stolen goods is a crime Until one day I am the road. Image: Md Al Amin / flickr Claire G Coleman Claire G Coleman is a Wirlomin Noongar woman whose ancestral country is in the South Coast of Western Australia. Her debut novel Terra Nullius, written while travelling in a caravan, won a Black&Write! Fellowship and has been shortlisted for the Stella Prize and an Aurealis Award. More by Claire G Coleman 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 30 March 2023 Culture RollerCoaster Tycoon and the art of niche hobbies Zac Picker As a writer, I spend too much time awake at night worrying about building an audience for my work. And yet, I spend even more time awake at night, planning my next RollerCoaster Tycoon park in my head, for an audience of the hundred-or-so RCT parkmakers I care about the most. First published in Overland Issue 228 29 March 2023 Aboriginal Australia Standing in the dawn’s new light: truth-telling for settlers Anthony Kelly There’s a paradox about being a settler in a stolen country. No matter when we arrived, we inherited the bounty of genocidal violence. Many of us are the beneficiaries of the intergenerational wealth-building that saw English, Irish and Scottish settler families grow rich on the sheep, timber, wheat and resources provided by stolen land. We have a profound responsibility to dismantle the ‘lie-telling’ because it shores up this legacy and the systems of colonial violence that continue in our lifetimes.