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Our Garden

Our Garden

He sits motionless on a rock with his head resting in his hands,

His eyes looking sadly over the lands.

This was the first day of a brand new year,

The millennium has now gone ~ the new century is here.

and at his feet rests his father’s spear.

The nostalgia in his eyes sheds a tear.

“For this land ~ the trees, the coast, the gentle blue sea

are the things that have been so Sacred to my children and me.

This was once a beautiful garden; my people’s land,

Then came the tall ships, soldiers, convicts ~ white man.

They brought with them guns, trinkets, a sheep and a cow.

They planted a flag in the sand and said

“this is our garden now.”

They cleared the land and cut down the trees

They scared away all the birds and honey bees.

They put up wire fences and started growing corn and wheat,

Possums and kangaroos disappeared, we had nothing to eat.

This had always been our hunting grounds

and they replaced these grounds with strange looking towns.

They tilled the land with horse and plough,

growing plants and sowing seeds,

with all their knowledge and white man’s know-how,

they brought with then the noxious weeds.

Never once did they say “excuse me, I beg your pardon,

may we please come into your garden?”

That would have been the thing to do of course,

But no! They barged in with guns and buckshot

and entered by force.

From that very moment our lives began changing.

Nature was disturbed and also began to change

Even the fish in the river began acting strange

while they hunted down our people;

shot them or put them in chains.

How strange must be their white God,

We give more respect even to a dog.

From behind the trees our fathers watched white man’s

strange behaviour and fights,

Fear in their hearts as they built roads through Sacred Sites.

Far worse than all of this it must be said,

They disturbed the Sacred souls of our fathers; the dead.

To this very day when I see carriages of iron or and coal,

Something burns deeply within my soul.

Strange apparel they wore to keep out the sun,

They drank barrels of beer and dirty water they called rum.

New rules that our stolen land you would have to buy or sell

and on every corner they built a thing called a hotel.

Then went up obscene shops and houses ~ wall after wall

Slowly, bit by bit our garden became so very small.

Our garden that had been there since time began; since evolution,

Our garden that knew not the meaning of the word “pollution.”

Petrol, coal, oil, diesel fuel

And they had the audacity to say that we had no school.

Surely history has gone a little off the track,

When now out children have to buy their own garden back.

It is still an idea that burns in the heart of the Aboriginal race,

Buying back our land? It was ours in the first place.

What a strange way to live ~ the way of white man,

The land didn’t belong to anybody – we belonged to the land

Yes we belonged to the land which we now had to buy,

We are buying back ourselves – I would rather die.

How could we buy back ourselves?

We had never dealt in white man’s gold,

The left us somewhere in between ~ out in the cold.

Parcels of land – isolated plots or far out in the outback

they condescendingly granted us some leases

as we sadly watched the disappearance of wildlife species.

In white man’s wisdom they brought along the cane toad,

the prickly pear, noxious weeds, new disease, alcohol;

white man’s curse,

Slowly, bit by bit our lives got worse; much worse.

Typhoid, Cholera, Smallpox – our people fled

Hundreds of bodies in putrid caves – all dead.

Life and death of our people – this was now our plight

The bones in those caves – all so very white.

An old man contemplates the plight of his fellow black man.

He is asking “what is to become of our children?”

He is watching little naked children playing under a tree,

while he sees a lost culture, lost people and lost dignity.

White man keeps going forward from station to station

Black man is in pain thinking of a lost generation.

“Can’t white man understand how our soul have been affected,

I am sorry to say that an apology can never be accepted.

Words cannot bring bac Sacred animals that are now extinct.

Nor can it buy the way that we think.

They never asked “can we come into your Garden?”

The never asked “can we take the fish out of the rivers?”

The thing that still gives me the shivers to this day,

They never asked “ can we take your children away?”

Amongst the worst, there is one thing that was so terribly wrong,

They never said “Excuse me, can we explode a bomb?”

And without wishing to point a finger,

You all know of course I am talking of Maralinga.

Forget the apology for it cannot change the way we think?

Do they think an apology will bring back peace?

While the Government hands a Corporation another lease.

That in itself makes an apology somewhat hollow,

God knows what then will follow.

The old man sits on a rock with his head in his hands,

and again he takes a sweeping look over the lands.

He sees hills of heartache and through his tears

he watches as his whole culture disappears.

A culture that has been there for forty thousand years.

Does white man think Australia only began when he arrived?

and progress was that he had a trractor and knew how to drive?

White technological progress; society only living for today.

“Excuse me but I liked it much better the other way.

You see I hunt no more I don’t gather berries.

No more do I hunt crocs,

My hunting is now done in supermarkets

with a plastic bag and a packaged box.

If this is progress, I do have to beg your pardon,

Please let me rest in peace in my people’s garden!

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