Toyota Dreaming

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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Brenda Saunders

Brenda Saunders is a poet and visual artist of Aboriginal and British descent. She has published three collections of poetry and her work has appeared in major anthologies and journals, including Australian Poetry JournalOverlandSoutherly, and Best Australian Poems in 2013 and 2015 (Black Inc). She has received numerous prizes including the Mick Dark Varuna Environmental Writers’ Fellowship, the Banjo Patterson Poetry Prize, and was a finalist in the prestigious Aesthetica Prize (UK) and the International Vice-Chancellors Poetry Prize (University of Canberra). She is a member of DiVerse Poets who write and perform their ekphrastic poetry in Sydney art galleries.

More by Brenda Saunders ›

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