OL229 cover_sutherland
Type
Poetry
Category
Fair Australia Prize

Poetry winner: East Perth [Imagined Nation]

If I were quizzed about my values,

I might recall some of the things

I value most: the endless meals

at Formosa, dated Taiwanese

singing contests idling in the back

part of my brain, or the time H

said ‘I am Australian man’, wound

down the window, shouting

‘fuuuucking cuuunt!’ as proof –

 

or when H said, ‘maybe we

could get married one day.’

Though that last, in case you

forgot, is something he and I

can’t do anyway (just FYI).

Or – I’m sorry – is this not

what that question means?

Perhaps these things are

un-translatable –

 

And quizzed upon my language

(which, decades on, I would not say

has been murdered – also just FYI),

I might speak on the time H said

‘I love you’, and I, cheesy grin

and all, gave my best 我爱你 .

I did start to learn but feared

my brain was just too small

(too Australian, even).

 

Or I might share the vocab

on H’s desk I puzzled over:

‘worth millions’ 百万身价

‘revolutionary’ 革命性

‘please don’t litter’ 请勿乱扔垃圾.

What they were for and why they

mattered mattering less than

that H wanted to learn them.

 

And if quizzed about how best

to integrate: I would think

it’s in the eyes, the held hands,

the tears, the maccas runs,

the break-ups, 5-year-plans,

the not-quite-sure, the

‘what are we?’, the whats-

app, fb messenger, line

‘i miss u kiss u’ come back

draw a map between our bodies

and they might name it a failed

land but my country is

your country 我爱你

 

 

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Andrew Sutherland is primarily a theatre practitioner between Perth and Singapore. Recent theatre works include Unveiling: Gay Sex for Endtimes with Perth’s Renegade Productions and Baby Girl for Black Swan State Theatre’s Emerging Writers Group.

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