To the wildest place
The clock's little hand is edging towards the late night ten. My writer friend and I have been chatting for hours already and we're only warming up.
He tells me how a new idea can distract him from The World Out There for days at a time and how he'd stared at the ceiling for three hours the night before with a new paragraph lodged in his mind. I can relate. Just this morning I'd woken with new lyrics behind my teeth.
As we are talking she appears in the hallway, wide-eyed with fairy pyjamas, bed hair braids and that perpetually loose front tooth. She's not supposed to be up after bedtime stories.
When she speaks, it is with both caution and a kind of pride.
"I couldn't sleep," she whispers. "Because I had a poem in my head."
The page is in her hand, the carefully linked words written in green marker.
Age Doesn’t Matter
When my Mum's gone she'll be burnt and taken far to the wildest place.
When my Dad's gone he'll be put in grave and go up to heaven I'm sure.
Neither of them will live longer than me if we're always safe.
Why does death have to exist?
But age doesn't matter it's the person you are whether rich or poor.
Cuddled up on my lap, with her page of poetry in my hand, my daughter is restless but relieved. Her little hands are still fidgeting as the clock's passes the ten.
I visited Bruny Island
A sailor stabbed her mother. A soldier shot her uncle. Sealers stole her sisters. Wood cutters cut off her fiancee's hands, killed him, then repeatedly raped her.
Sailors, soldiers, sealers and wood cutters. These men had names, and addresses. They probably have living descendants.
Aussies like victims. We like to think of her as a woman who life just happened to. Shit happens and she had heaps of it, right?
When she was twenty nine, she joined with four friends to wage a guerrilla war against the invaders. They robbed huts, shot settlers and ended up killing two sailors.
They were stockpiling weapons.
She didn't wear a metal letterbox helmet, but she took em on. She was not a moderate. She was extreme. She was a bushranger, a rebel, an armed revolutionary.
How could she have been anything else?
When she disappeared, she wanted to be buried behind Mount Wellington. One hundred years later, her bones were returned from England. Her body was cremated and scattered on the same stretch of water on which she saw her fiancee killed.
Her dust is in the sand. And that sand is still in my shoes.