Type
Poetry
Category
Nakata Brophy Prize

Runner-up, Nakata Brophy Prize: From a place, unknown

Acacia all black
from the bone cup
          and a daughter born
          with a blue quandong
          sucked to the stone
          between her lips,

the shadow
of a camphor laurel leaf
                    red bellied and
                    heavy at the surface,
its branch eaten smooth
by a current of pearls

          and the velvet
          at the heart of a banksia
          broken under a foreign heel.

Lomandra’s new shoot
ripe for basket weaving
and a tongue
speaking language

and something else
for those of us
who can’t remember how,

                    with words wilted
                    that don’t touch the ground,
                    too bitter in the mouth
                    for the familiar heartbeat
                    of bush:

 

                              lo
                                   man
                                        dra

 

                              and other plants, uncommon,
                    whose seed need burning
          and knowing hands

and then the blood
resilient and resinous like sap
falling inward,
          beating for country
          I do not know
behind eyes open,
dreaming of dreaming
and undreamt too.

Under ashen silt
and the grey in between,
a quartz casting light
through muddied waters
alive with freshwater grayling

          and if you listen closely,
          you can hear the gold
          in the riverbed.

 

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Tais Rose is an Aboriginal writer and weaver living on Bundjalung country. With a complex displaced cultural identification through ancestral dissociation, her poetry seeks to highlight the significance of decolonisation work, while celebrating the resilient sentience of Aboriginal culture and connection to country that is inevitably passed on through blood.

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