poem: Our Blacks

Our Blacks

This year I work among the Yolgnu, work

Not live among them – way too hard. I have

An office cool and clean, a house with all

‘Mod cons’. So black and quiet and dignified
Is she with face both old and young; her legs
So long and thin, her movements graceful, eyes

Averted. Speaks so little, hates all whites

Perhaps – she should! You don’t say much if trust

Is lacking, facing enemy of old.

It could just be that she speaks English not

At all. She has near none of all the stuff

That we so dearly need, and many folk

Like her are nearly dead by forty-five

From poverty, neglect and sickness that

We hardly see down south. Near all her clan

Has diabetes, eating rubbish food

Brought here by whites. The clans are ev’rywhere

In crisis – alcohol and violence, drugs

And unemployment, under-schooled and sick.

Out here depression grips the whole black tribe

It seems at times; their loss of land when we

Invaded, that’s the likely cause, for loss

Of land is loss of self for them. And yet

There’s hope among the young, there’s quite a few

Are fit and healthy. Football stars may show

The way to self-esteem and coping well

With both the cultures, black and western, far

Apart. I well recall a fine old pair,

Were straight and fit – old stockman, checkered shirt

And Stetson hat. Both strong and wiry, smiled

In friendship, made me feel so good. And when

Today I walked the beach and came upon

The camp of two aged folk, they beckoned me;

Quite friendly, spoke in Yolgnu, just to check

Me out perhaps. What can be done to help

Our blacks to well regain their self esteem

And self reliance? Stable policies

And ‘bottom-up’ control by local groups

Will help I think; no more ‘top-down’ by us.

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