At sunrise, the mine lifts in stark surprise reveals a skyline shaped by giant graders Kimberley hills stepped like ancient ziggurats Machines that sifted precious ore are silent now. Giant loaders have left the tailings heaped in piles: pink dust powders the sky Young Gidja men speed in new cars, scatter the tribes with ideas of progress. New stories cut deep, cover the tracks of the ancestors Fumes from Toyota utes spread particles of doubt among the people. A new smell fills the air. Black roads smooth a bumpy ride * The old ones do not understand this need to change. Re-create the ancient stories for the sake of a diamond mine They sing the Ngarranggami Dreaming Point to rocks. Three women turned to stone warn of the sacred Barramundi’s journey – dance the legend shaped by a magic fish who leaps the narrow gorge: brushing her pink and golden scales on her way upstream Women ‘Smoke’ the bosses crowding onto totem ground. Men who come from far away burrow like ants beneath the secret places * Argyle have come to build a tunnel, excavate the hollow caves, searching for hidden seams Their hope studded with diamonds – plan to blast the Gap, fill the sacred springs with broken rock, drive the workers into a pit, offering danger money The tribes can see the value, the power in red shale: they sift their Country’s losses against solid gains. Working for ‘the Company’ lured by the shine of a crystal trinket harder than stone. Buried treasure of the River Spirit gleams forever in the white man’s dreams Gidja: traditional owners Ngarranggami: the sacred Barramundi Smoke: Smoking ceremony the Gap: Barramundi gap the Company: Argyle Diamond
Brenda Saunders is a Sydney writer and artist of Aboriginal and British descent. Her poetry and reviews have been published in selected anthologies and on the web. She has read at several poetry events and her work was recently featured on ‘Awaye’ and ‘Poetica’ on ABC Radio National.
© Brenda Saunders
Overland 204−spring 2011, p. 123
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