Kuracca Prize Runner-up | The grief tourist

They called you nameless, but you are my many named
where foreground, midground, background fold in on one another
like black hole time, black time, bush time, way out back that way time

we wash down from locked up wastelands, cradled in your sandy basinet
lighting up for homing waters here in the in-between air of waves
we are coalesced and all made by currents boulder

water lathes too your feldspar thighs pillow soft, bleached and filtrating
skin like hips that have never seen a baking sun. But your sandstone palms
have seen every sun since heat and fuel and oxygen ignited life

ants make art in water table shallows, on the underside of barking
honey eaters, commence one hundred years of sculpting wombs in trunk
hickory wattle skin patinas where sap bakes to ebonite and lichen crusts

bees frantic your geebung, weaving wind through flax lily sacs
while I walk in childhood Country, dreaming of the overhung
strangeness, freshness of alpine and tropics birthing bell birds and ferns

here for meeting always since the time of no time, hollowed wood winds
black and breathless, the thrum of terror, rage and loss rock bed deep
bubble through ancient stratum passed a land of no language, of moiety lost

against hills of vitiligo as far as the eye can see, here in our meeting place
time semibreves deep where karrikins terraform grief and death
where silent singing hangs in air once full of microbial mischief

I think about our cities, about the highways I crossed to get to here
I think about the miracle of water on earth, of consciousness
formed from dust, tendered by time and chaos and love and ancestors

what will show in a century from now but black tarred grief authored
on your liesegang and I wonder who will purchase this trauma from me
when I return to trade in the land of coin and commerce.

Yeena Kirkbright

Yeena Kirkbright is a Wiradjuri woman living on Gadigal Land, who grew up on Country in Central West NSW. She uses poetry to document her personal journey, exploring gender, identity, place, cultural displacement, and decolonisation.

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