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A Quarterly Journal
Jeffrey Woodward, Founder & General Editor
Volume 8, Number 3, September 2014

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Marilyn Humbert
Sydney, New South Wales, Australia


Oasis: Palm Valley Northern Territory Australia

The walking track meanders up along the ridge to a lookout over the desert and down into a chasm clothed in greenery. I see yellow-faced rock wallabies peeping from hideouts in hollows of the escarpment.

along the ridge
dotted with yellow acacia
bird song
fills the valley
. . . and my heart

Silence surprises me as I step onto fine red sand and flat rocks of the gorge floor. Late morning heat-haze burnishes the steep cliff-walls. Shadows sneak from prehistoric red cabbage palms and cycads across the narrow valley. Mid-winter July, the dry season in Central Australia, the Finke River is reduced to skinny waterholes in rock crevices of the riverbed, fed by springs bubbling up from Australia’s great artesian basin.

There is so much peace in this place until I stare into a still black pond between the riverbed rocks and see the flickering shades of a bloody history. Echoes of death, tribal battles for ownership, and more recently, settlers' claims for this haven, sacred to the ancient tribes of Australia.

bone pile
bleached and crumbling
silence . . .
wind weaves
through bare trees

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