October 16, 2015

The Keening of my Shame

Aboriginal woman,
you wear your dignity
deep inside your bones,
the sun at your head
and the earth at your feet,
standing so tall,
despite the abhorrent atrocities
inflicted on your kind,
inflicted on your people,
inflicted on your land
and on your culture by my kind.
I would love to call you my sister
for I too love this place we share,
it has woven its song into my bones too
and my children, who share a thin thread of your blood,
swing from its branches
and dive in its streams,
but I find that my heart flinches from the knowing of you,
and my eyes drift away, hiding my fear,
and that a crust of withholding lies
between the land and me,
for my shame at the colour of my skin,
for my people who came in boats
and took what was not theirs to take,
who imposed their narrow and brittle belief
upon the matrix of your embedded belonging
to something so deep and vast and majestic.
My people, who raped and murdered,
lied and stole,
plundered and pilaged,
desecrated and brutalised
your sacred inheritance
and the bloodlines of your people.
When I close my eyes
and drop into this land that I love
I feel you there,
with the sun at your head
and the earth at your feet.
As my feet dance upon the earth,
my  tears well and spill,
for the shame that lives in me,
for what the culture of my ancestors did to yours.
And as I keep dancing upon this earth,
as I offer her my keening and the song of my tears,
I feel that she loves me too.
And as I look inside my heart
I know that it is not the same heart, beating there,
as that which crossed the oceans
in the rib cages of my ancestors.
It is a heart full of love and respect
for you and your people,
even in your grief so proud and beauty filled.
How I long to learn from you and call you my friend,
yet my world, peopled with the colours of so many skins,
is rarely blessed with the presence of yours,
though it is your land upon which we walk,
though I feel your ancestors beneath my feet.
I just wanted you to know that my hiding from you
has been on account of my shame,
not my lack of love
and that I will seek to be more brave
when next our eyes meet,
that my gaze might speak more of the love
than of the shame,
that you may know how I honour you,
standing so tall,
with the sun at your head
and the earth at your feet.

Lucy Pierce © 2015