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Wednesday, February 21, 2018


by Mark Tarren

Mungo Man returned to ancestral home where he died 40,000 years ago. Traditional owners say the return of the remains of the historic Mungo Man, who was removed by scientists from his resting place more than 40 years ago, will provide closure and is a step toward reconciliation. More than four decades ago anthropologists removed the ancient skeleton of an Aboriginal man—the discovery of which rewrote Australian history. Now he has been returned home to his descendants, travelling for days in a hearse from Canberra. —ABC News, November 17, 2017. Photo by Dean Sewell, The Guardian, November 19, 2017.

These are the winds
of Country.

That birthed fire leaf and smoke
fish, ear and bone

upon the grinding stone
sparks hooded in a eucalypt sky
the footprint of a face.

A fire of Yellow Box and peppermint
of scented leaf, sand and cloud

that carved out a timbered lake
with gentle ochre limbs

hands crossed deep across
the womb of beginning
in the wounds of Country.

These are the winds
of Mutthi Mutthi, Paakantji

sung forever in the tears
of the tall man’s journey
to return to Country.

My white skin burns against
the red-gum casket lung

unable to remain in this life
as he wraps me to unfold me

in the ancient sands
of dunes and desert wounds

the crack, cry and howl as
my white skin dies
swept away
in the scales of shedding,

of waiting.

Come and dance across our hearts
so we can find

the first fire that remains.

Mark Tarren is a poet and writer based in Queensland, Australia. His poems have appeared or are forthcoming in various literary journals including TheNewVerse.News, The Blue Nib, Poets Reading The News, Street Light Press, Spillwords Press and Tuck Magazine.