poem – I want you to promise

I want to know

if it’s possible to get

a Promise,

a reassurance or two

that this generation

will teach the next

the things that school books

and television, and politicians

have not

(will not).


Mothers and fathers

and aunties and uncles

sisters & brothers & cousins:

promise me –

please – promise me

you’ll put this lie to bed

so thoroughly that

it will never wake again,

because it breaks my heart every time I hear it

& it’s been holding on,

this lie,





ringing loud and false.

A great big



I never knew.

I’ve never met one of you people before

(not all of us live

in the desert, I promise)

They never told us this at school – but Why?
Why didn’t they tell us?

I never knew.

I never knew.


Have you learned enough by now?

will your children know

that there’s more to being aboriginal

than Dreamtime stories

and football players?

That we’re still here

living and surviving

as best we can

in a place that tried

so very hard

to cleanse the soil

of our footprints

and silence the ache

we carry in our hearts?


I know you saw the Prime Minister say

Sorry –

and I know you feel bad

about the disgrace

of the lucky country.

The shame of your skin burns you sometimes

the mistakes and the cruelty

bring tears to your eyes

and sow guilt in your spirit.

& I know that you wonder how

you can make it

so your children know

to be kind to

the land they walk upon,

to be kind

to the fragile-strong people

them Bullies grind down.


I hear your hurt and confusion

and the buzzing anxiety

the fear and desperate futility

that it’s too late,

and things are just so complex, that it’s really

too hard

for even one generation

to right the wrongs that are being wall-papered over

the old ones.


This land is sacred and it welcomes you

It is so ancient,


it nurtures you.

I know you care for it so much.

So promise me –

if you can.

Promise me,

& promise my sisters and brothers & cousins

and aunties & uncles and my mother,

that you’ll be the ones to help put it to bed, now

when there is no time left

and the last excuses are wilting

with this great big world

where we tell our stories

and share them with

our mob,

& your mob, and every single person

who sits in a library or

in front of a campfire,

and starts to learn that

we are still here.

We are still here –

that the books are wrong


(to be generous & kind)

full of old pictures

torn in half, and framed

just so.


Please promise me.

I’ll have nephews and nieces

of my own

but can’t yet trust

that they won’t

hear the same brutal lies

that I did

(and do).

Promise me.





1 Comment

Filed under poetry

One response to “poem – I want you to promise

  1. Pingback: Welcome to the 65th Down Under Feminist Carnival!

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