for Poetess Tahirih
My sister made me a basket
Woven in a rainbow garden
Where petals soft and warm
Didn’t want to fade in the sun.
She could enchant any carpet snake
Yellow or black
They’re still swaying to her music’s tack
Forward and back, forward and back.
Light sang of colours woven into a spirit kite
Skimming the river of rainbow sisters everywhere.
Her basket of poetry was tossed
Into the centre of the sun
There it burnt strong and true
Until red flames became blue.
The Faith in her basket
Said “Send me to the sky
I’ll come back like a Phoenix just you wait”
She danced around a square and found
She couldn’t really fit.
She found a circle and could not
But nine doors of a temple opened out
And she found a basket woven in a daisy,
Wrapped in a rose.
It was no time to pose
No time to fade in the sun.
She sang a song that spiralled out
Into her rainbow garden
Left petals soft and warm
On the path that she first laid there.
(c) June Perkins
to weave me
of her triumphant story
songs of sore fingers
waiting for mercy’s respite
is sunset’s daughter
weaving freedom’s future
(c) June Perkins
She went to the archives stretched out in the land
Followed their tracks
Followed their scents nipping in the wind
Followed a canvas sniffing out the paint.
She sent out the brushstrokes to become picture words
Reeling in acrylic memory
Reeling in encounters with testimony
Reeling in the sites of her aunties’ significances.
She called out to the images against the grain
Installed in galleries, libraries, town halls
Murals and tracks and scents and canvas
And mouths, and songs and steps
And gestures, she danced.
She called out “Here comes the butterfly
Lamenting the suffering of the
Koori song, Murri Song, Warlpiri song, Kimberly song,
Mekeo song, Man song,
Woman song, Human song,”
She danced the revisions of her story
In layers upon layers
Of the red earth
Yellow earth, brown earth and white clay.
© June Perkins, First published in Aboriginal History 30, 2006.