The love of grandpa’s life,
his ‘Cheeky Nora’. Ancient tongue,
remembered homeland, youth and love,
they sometimes spoke it still.
They knew when first they camped beside
this deep blue bay, felt warm sand
between their toes, swam in sea
so crystal clear, befriended seals,
here was their little piece of heaven.
My dad brought mum down here
when first they married.
Their days alone, footprints
skinny dipping in cool sea.
in pure, white sand,
Family folklore says upon this beach
my sister was conceived.
We sprinkled grandma’s ashes
in the bay, and later Grandpa’s too.
Watched them sink and disappear.
Sunsets a spectacular farewell,
the milky way a pathway, to the sky.
My sister, Anna, has her
Grandma’s classic beauty,
black hair, white skin, blue eyes.
Today, on our morning swim together.
I watch her dive, hair streaming,
at home among the waves.
My grandpa swore she was a Selkie,
a seal, who’d come to spend some time
with us. He sometimes wondered
if one day she’d leave us, and rejoin
her clan, the seals here in the bay.
You won’t find these in the bush.
Thistles, nettles, tumbleweed,
three-cornered jacks, horehound,
They’re here along the verge.
This road pushed through virgin bush
‘dozers, graders, men with shovels
pushed aside natives, exposed
dry red earth for colonisers.
So here they grow, rough, tough
settlers in the bare earth
taking root, pushing aside
crowding out, taking over.
New roads open up new land
new colonisers clear more bush
plough, harrow, sow, reap.
Drain rivers, lose topsoil, spray.
Rough, tough, determined
Colonisers must be so.
New ecosystems carved out,
old must be held back.
It’s productive. Feeds people.
No place for plants that feed
old displaced inhabitants
Plants, animals, people.
What does productive mean?
David Harris is a member of Adelaide’s Friendly Street Poets. You can find more of his poetry by searching here at Tinteán and also at https://friendlystreetpoets.org.au/poetry/sample-of-poets/david-harris/