Equal first place: MANY GIRLS WHITE LINEN

no mist no mystery

no hanging rock only


many girls white linen

men with guns and

harsher things white women

amongst gums white linen

starch’er things later plaques

will mark this war

nails peeling back floor

scrubbing back blak chores

white luxe hangnails hanging

more than nails while

no palm glowing paler


later plaques will mark

this sick linen’s rotten

cotton genes later plaques

will track the try

to bleed lineage dry


its banks now flood

a new ancestor, Ordeal,


plaits this our blood

if evil is banal

how more boring is

suffering evil two bloodlines

from it how more

raw rousing horrifying is

the plaque that marks

something else rolling on

from this place a

roll of white linen

dropped on slight incline

amongst gums collecting grit

where blak girls hang

nails hang out picking

them hangnails



226 cover.indd

Read the rest of Overland 226


If you enjoyed this prizewinning poem, buy the issue

Or subscribe and receive
four outstanding issues for a year

Alison Whittaker

Alison Whittaker is a Gomeroi multitasker from the floodplains of Gunnedah in NSW. Between 2017–2018, she was a Fulbright scholar at Harvard Law School. Both her debut poetry collection, Lemons in the Chicken Wire, and her recent collection, Blakwork, were published by Magabala Books.

More by Alison Whittaker ›

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