closely guarded secrets.

black grandmother dug a stick
into the ground, and water gushed

through and flowed into drinking tins.

bush food and bush medicine abundant

in pristine pindan wilderness.

paradise is when all one needed
was there for the asking.

time was when mixed race black women
turned ‘mission girls’ 

had nuns teaching them domestic skills

to prepare them for employment

for white settlers in town

once they came of age

for release from mission care.

they have great grandchildren today

these ‘mission girls’ proud of the badge

of survival, their battle gear cry

reverberating across the rest of the continent,

‘Leave Country alone!’

they are great nan now themselves,

defending the closely guarded secrets

of their black grandmothers

whose remains have melded with the sacred soil,

whose waterholes and song cycle grounds

are under siege once more

by today’s heavy machinery of growth.


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