koi sidebar

A Quarterly Journal
Jeffrey Woodward, Founder & Owner
Ray Rasmussen, General Editor

Volume 12, Number 1, March 2018

Gerry Jacobson
Canberra, Australian Capital Territory, Australia

Granite Country

moment mine
granite beneath me
the sun has risen
the sea never ceases
the earth remains

I'm out one day in the remote Pitjantjatjara lands; geological fieldwork. I have the same first name as a local man who died recently. So people avoid my name. I become Kuminjay (substitute name). They're curious about me, and someone asks where my country is.

Think quickly, Kuminjay. In this Aboriginal context you need to know; need to belong to a place. Where was my placenta buried? Under the rubble of a bombed-out city on the other side of the world. That story's too complicated for this mob.

I do define it: the granite hills of Namadgi. My local hills. And when I get back home to Canberra I start to walk those hills. Purposefully. To get to know them. Camp in them. To make them my country. Well, people say that if you stay in a place long enough, the spirits of the land will talk to you.

listening . . .
wind in the trees
and the songs
of unseen birds
whistlers . . . warblers . . . screechers

When I leave work I'm out in the Namadgi national park more often. Especially on the "Wednesday Walks": day walks with a group of fit retirees. And almost everywhere in Namadgi is stunning.

grey granite boulders
tinged with orange sunlight
in a wild forest
of silver gums
and gold flowering pea

It changes after the 2003 bushfires. For a year or two there's bushfire ash. Clear walking but desolate. And then the regrowth of shrubs and trees. Twelve years after the fires it's become dense, head-high scrub.

through the regrowth
in and out
the granite tors
scratched and stumbling, tripping

And now my right hip is stiffening. I'm not fit enough for the Wednesday Walks. Will I bushwalk again? Will I get back to my country? Or will I have to use a Land Cruiser like so many of the brothers and sisters out there? And get some whitefella to drive me.

Editor's Note: The tanka "moment mine" was previously published in Atlas Poetica 15 (Summer 2013), in the author's tanka prose piece titled "The Land."



| contents page | next tanka prose |

koi sidebar r