A line in the sand

Jasmine Pirovic

Content Warning: Discrimination

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Like a game of chess,

those white men would move first.

They wrote the game that way —

leaving others in the dirt.

Their dirt.

Or so they claimed

the day they cried Terra Nullius

and drowned out 60,000 years of life,

with Waltzing Matilda,

and a gun.

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All larrikins and beer.

“We’re multicultural here.”

We’ll take your nasi goreng, hommus,

and palak paneer.

A thin veneer.

Blue eyes scan

our dark hair and heed our foreign tongue,

as they pluck a fallen branch

from the rotten, red river gum

and draw a line in the sand —

separating that southern land

from mum, from dad, from me.

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Go back to where you came from

as though mum didn’t spend eighteen hours

in Westmead.

As though,

the only sand for me is

in the desert,

idling in my parents

moth-eaten and frayed

memory. 

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It’s this line

that pets

Kath instead of Oodgeroo,

Ayers Rock and Mrs. Macquaries chair.

Lest we forget Yassmin,

the activist engineer.

A lie by omission — Pinjarra, 

Cape Grim and Rufus River —

is still a lie,

in the syllabus

and on the

bleached 

walls in Canberra.

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I weigh their luke-warm fair-go

in my greasy dago palm,

and gaze at the water’s edge,

crusted with old seaweed.

White children play there

like flies on shit.