Published in Overland Issue 215 Winter 2014 Uncategorized The point John Hawke The green strip of land projecting low from the bay is signalled by the figures of four tall pines: these sentinels can be sighted for guidance from a great distance. The undulation of its hills leads to a platform of broken rock, the point where huge swells break. Against the low cliff-fall, facing north across the beach and toward the ranges, is a settlement of faded boat-houses, whose miscellany of patchwork materials have withstood the ascension of innumerable tides. Now abandoned, they might be dwellings from an earlier time, surrounded by shellfish and oddly coloured stones, their thresholds opening directly onto the rising sun. The path to the point is marked by a scattering of impermanent hand-made memorials: these are for surfers recently killed by the rocks that lie concealed beneath the white line of swell. The surfers are also perpetual to this place: they arrive before dawn and follow the waves until well after nightfall; on most afternoons, when the tides are strong, a small crowd gathers on the headland to watch them skate across the lucid skin of a dangerous break. There are also signs of an older residence: here are the rows of erased tram-tracks that once transported raw materials to steam-ships from more developed nations. And this is the place where a foreign novelist once stood briefly before continuing his pilgrimage: a part of my spirit will always remain here, gazing like a ghost across this dark line of hills, were his departing words. He lived for a time above the neglected beach, and every evening would follow the pathways through the swampy wetlands, where a tea-coloured creek still spreads its labyrinth of streams and marshes across a wide floodplain. Today, when this area has been chosen for housing, other inhabitants have attempted to establish their presence. Protestors have discovered that this was the oldest aboriginal burial site on the east coast. A makeshift embassy of corrugated iron was erected by the lagoon where sea-birds gather, an aboriginal flag permanently raised, a fire that would burn in all weathers was lit. Often, when the moon casts its avenue of light over the ocean, the music of their ceremonies drifts with the smoke across this silent landscape, and in the echo of these rituals of mitigation there is the promise of some healing, some relief. I visited this beach late one afternoon at the onset of autumn, after driving without purpose to the edge of town. I simply halted where the bitumen ran out, banking the car against the tussocky sand raked by an approaching western wind. The walkways delivered a procession of couples with their children and dogs, freed for these few brief hours of shared exercise and leisure. I followed the path preferred by the foreign novelist, with its views across mountain ranges diluted in the shine of salt haze. The blustery wind, which cancelled all sound, matted the tall grass on the green hillside, yet from somewhere the drone of machinery could be heard. This was the site selected for development, a waste land as yet unfenced and undisturbed. As I mounted the slope a strange and vivid tableau presented itself: lying on his side, and almost concealed in the long grass, was the prone figure of an aboriginal man, impassive and apparently relaxed. Before him stood the roaring engine of the bulldozer, the only purpose of which, it seemed, was to sweep this man from the earth, where he lay protecting the invisible bones of a forgotten ancestor. There was a perfect stillness in the scene, enacted under bright sunshine, and muted by the teeming wind and machine noise, of which I was the only witness. Slowly the light died across the dunes, as the black range once again imposed its shadow on the townships below. The last figures vanished from the beach, and the grey sea continued its heaving motion. I did not stay long at this turning point: there were no good omens to be discovered. Without reflection or further thought, I started the engine and took the road back into town. John Hawke John Hawke's latest volume, Whirlwind Duststorm, is available from Grand Parade Poets: https://grandparadepoets.com/whirlwind-duststorm-by-john-hawke/ More by John Hawke 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 25 November 202225 November 2022 Poetry Poetry | Summer animal Jini Maxwell This summer I can feel myself turning back into an animal. I wake up early and seek out trees, walking through the expansive quiet of the park until the heat starts feeling sharp on my skin. I leave the blinds closed, so when I return home the building is dark and familiar, and as I shut the door behind me I feel a satisfaction I can only describe as territorial. First published in Overland Issue 228 24 November 202225 November 2022 Politics ‘Sir, please get me the Manager’: Brazil before and after Bolsonaro Guido Melo By then, although young in age, I already knew about those rituals of humiliation and how they were part of my Black family's lives. I also knew that surviving those daily interactions required putting my head down and following the instructions received with no hesitation. I must have had ‘the talk ‘with my parents when I was eight or nine. Life was just like that. Being Black in Brazil means living in a war. No one should ever go to war underprepared.