Wanduwa

Emily Munro-Harrison

 

My son’s birth makes me grateful for my mother

It transforms time to a before, a now and what is to come

Teaches me what I would do for him

Awakes a worry about what awaits

 

What kind of future are we making?

 

I mouth the words

Of a language taken

My baby continues the connection

He is the land, the earth, the water

 

What kind of future are we making?

 

He mimics my mouth

I see his grandfather in it

Hear the words my grandmother never spoke

There are thousands of years in those eyes

 

What kind of future are we making?

 

‘and he has your complexion’ a midwife laughs

When I tell her the meaning of his name

My skin will never be black enough to answer for living in this city place

But the stories told about this place don’t start from the start

 

What kind of future are we making?

 

I will take him

To touch the soil and place his feet in the water

Greet the land of our ancestors

Bury his placenta in the earth

 

What kind of future are we making?

 

This year of his birth is also

The death of rivers and of land cracking and dry

Of seas swelling and oceans rising

Of people fleeing conflict and drowning at sea or being turned away

 

What kind of future are we making?

 

They cut down birthing trees

To build roads

That will get people places more quickly

As if this is not a place

 

What kind of future are we making?

 

But there are many histories hidden –

Stories are kept in the earth

In the roots of the trees, in the water and in the sky

There are answers to our questions here

 

What kind of future are we making?

 

When the birds have nowhere to come home to

And the reefs are white as bones

When oil and gold and coal and minerals and food and water are gone

Plastic money will make no body rich

 

What kind of future are we making?

 

When he is born I place the possum skin against him

I wonder what in the world

Could be more important

Than what kind of future we leave

 

Emily Munro-Harrison is a Wiradjuri woman, who grew up and lives on unceded Kulin Country in Narrm. A member of the Blak Writers Group in Melbourne, her creative writing includes poetry, micro-fiction and creative non-fiction. Her work explores youth justice, gender, place and Indigeneity.

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