Ghost Fire

Merrindahl Andrew writes poetry and short fiction, some of which has appeared in Cordite, Baby Teeth, Hearts in Causes and Islet, among other places.  She also works on preventing gender-based violence and does lots of parenting.  She posts new work on Twitter @merrindahl.

Steps in this bush crackle with settling,
crackle the ghost papers that stole it
and gave it to my people, public servants
who made a National Park
for walking and sitting still.

If I’m still enough, stare hard enough
and blank the rest
and magnify the sun
through the back of my head
will smoke rise?
Will an edge brighten?

A flame could come and eat up
that old deed of title and
give the ashes to these sedges
and the small-leafed vine
and me to an alternate timeline.

In this timeline there’s just the press
of twigs on my bare thighs and ants
crossing the fresh hell of my shoe and
my ears open to the summer
click and buzz that even some who
weren’t meant to come here
can’t help but love.


Some background on the poem in the poet’s words:

In summer, our family goes camping at the Cotter River near Canberra when we can.  When I was growing up in lutruwita/Tasmania, I spent time living in the bush, and I have always loved being in the bush.  It meshes with something in me, and I feel at home.  But I know my presence there, like that of all settlers, rests on the dispossession of land from Aboriginal people.  This poem is about how those feelings and knowings are mixed up together.

© Merrindahl Andrew, 2021