Echoes

Silvery spinifex shake and shiver startled by the winds soft sigh.
The night is hushed and quiet, a big mob of roos pass by,
when faintly like a memory of a lonely Spirit Being
comes the sound of warrigals * calling, calling, calling. Echoing.

The desert nights are cold and dark, wind whispers through the dunes.
A million stars, bright sycophants, are clustered round the moon.
Has it been stained by desert sands? For it glows orange red.
Or does its colour represent some long ago bloodshed?

Red coals glow in the campfire, casting shadows black and deep
where a woman rocks a coolamon in which her baby sleeps.
She sings an ancient lullaby, like her Mother used to do.
Two dogs, with ears cocked, listen, as they gnaw carcase of roo.

From the darkness comes a moaning, an eerie wailing sound
rising in the nighttimes stillness, it echoes all around.
It’s the sound of didges droning as they play the ancient songs
and the clap sticks beat the rhythm, as they will the whole night long.

The Voice of God* is calling the Spirits of the Ancient Ones
who also walked these desert sands beneath the blazing sun.
As its swung its song it sings, it calls the Gods to bring the rain
to fill the waterholes and creeks and replenish arid plains.

The night sky lightens, dawn is near, the storm bird sings his song.
Tall shadowed shapes return to camp, a silent stealthy throng.
Just the sibilant shoosh of sand disturbed by broad unfettered feet
is heard as warriors return, to drink and rest and eat.

Soon they’ll leave to hunt Perente* in the dark red desert sands
whilst still cool enough to walk on. Each man carries in his hands
his boomerang and hunting tools of woomera and spear
the same as their forefathers did, as has been done for years.

They are hunters quite imposing. Just a hair string belt in place.
White shells woven in their hair, ochre paint still on each face
and body . The ritual symbols of the totems for their clan .
They are hunters, they are warriors. Each an initiated man.

Silvery spinifex shake and shiver startled by the winds soft sigh.
Early dawn is hushed and quiet, there are wispy clouds up high.
Then faintly like a memory of a lonely Spirit Being
comes the sound of warrigals calling, calling, calling. Echoing.

© Maureen Clifford

* Bullroarers were often referred to as The Voice of God
• Perente – Goanna/Lizard
• warrigals – Dingo/Australian native dog

Review

A beautiful ballad Maureen!

I watched your excellent presentation and was transported instantly from the Kalahari to the outback for an enchanting although almost familiar journey.

Warrigals and spinnefex I’ve come across before,
(similar to jackals that our sheep farmers deplore)
stalking through the reed-beds and howling at the moon;
perching like a sand djinn at the apex of a dune.

Sycophants and coolamons along with didgy doos
are stranger than your walla bees and crazy kangaroos
So thank you Mau for showing me the wonders of your land
and reading me the pictures with the words from your own hand.

Wally Schwim

Song of the Spirit
Rejoice the Thorns

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