The Red Soil Ground

My Spirit flies back to the Wattie Creek as the days seem to take their toll–
I long to sit with my family tribe down by that old waterhole.
In life I’ve soared other times dug deep to bury a raging despair –
And flying or caged I hold and keep those memories dear and rare.

Only as a boy when I roamed and ran the ranges and mountain streams –
Is there so clear in the memory span of my life and all my dreams,
Another time many years ago, when I was made one of the clan –
Given a skin and a family’s love, the finest achievement of man.

Donald and Nidje, two proud strong men, the father and brother of mine –
Leading a fencing team once again, ramming posts in a perfect line.
Fencing off land that was already theirs, land that was stolen away –
Powerful men with their humble hearts, living dreams for a brand new day.

Hobbles, whose gardening skills were plied to his veggie plot neat and grand–
His amazing story how Captain Cook tried defending the tribes and their land.
How Cook was called back but failed in the Courts to protect the blacks from the guns –
In settlers chains on their backs they brought the goods to the new stock runs.

When I turned thirty I came of age and was welcomed by patient souls –
Feeling our spirits unite as one we’d gaze in the night fire coals.
You showed me love and silent respect, new–born to the family tree –
A Julima skin the tribe did elect my family forever to be.

Now as I try with my own blood’s kin, to seek peace from a painful past –
I call to you and I search within and climb and cling to this mast.
As the waves of neglect crash over me, I reach for that sheltering cave,
With brothers and sisters I need to be not sunk in a selfish grave.

Where did I go and why did I go there and why is this pain so great–
Lingiari’s spirit speaks to me, Rangiari I miss you mate!
Distance and time have chipped at my life and love can’t be measured in years–
Vincent is gone from this earthly strife but Mick is still shedding the tears.

The Spirit of hope that unites our dreams, tugs hard, as these doubts I cast–
The black mans face in the silence beams and his tears flow over my past.
At Wattie Creek where we sat unchained in the silence and calm firelight –
The skin of family always remains through the days and darkness of night.

I see you Vincent through dust and dreams, so patient, humble and strong–
Giving new life, returning the pride, so peacefully righting a wrong.
Gentle and calm with soft loving eyes in silence we’d sit by the fire –
Bringing me peace and family love, then back to your camp and retire.

I love you still and visit I must to free this soul once again –
This aching body may turn to dust the Spirit is what will remain.
And soar as it may ’tween the golden sun and shade ’neath the paperbark trees –
We’ll meet at the birth where life began, the tips of the leaves of the trees.

And floating down to the red soil ground once again on the earth as one –
We’ll talk of the past, the lost, the found, sit dreaming as father and son.
Re–binding ties you’ll soften my eyes, spread wisdom and calmness around –
A watch I’ll keep, as you silently sleep, in the shade in the red soil ground.

© Roderick Williams. 1999