A photograph of an Australian coast in the daytime, where the ocean meets the cliffs; the water is blue, green, and white; the cliffs are sandy brown and green.

First Fleet

by Ava Lacoon-Robinson
Content warnings: colonisation, violence, racism

Part 1: PATERNAL

HIStory
History folded into a schoolgirl’s journal and locked with a key.
It started with white man's rabid hunger.
They were given a boat and a compass
and devoured the world.
Handed a gun,
they took a big bite. 

“Terra Nullius”
What defines a man?
Is it the sting of a redback?
Is it holding a gun in their hands? 
and asking a body not yet cold
to apologise for the bullet in their heart?

Is it a guiltless pleasure dripping from their fingers and lips?
Is it a man with a red thumb, not a green
who scatters crimson evening dew?
Is it one with a Grim Reaper’s black book,
filled with buried names who wish to be in a land of the 
Young         and          Free?

Ancestors I Try to Forget 

The ink stain of ‘88 pricks like a thorn in my throat.
Blood from mosquitos who preyed upon flesh for their own sanctity,
entwined with my DNA.

I want to wash the touch of my forefathers from the landscape
Regain the undivided soil
I seize a pen and draw lines, reunite each person with their family, 
erasing what history broke stole. 

Part 2: MATERNAL

Mumma
Mumma,
at four you journeyed to a land where grass howls at the moon, 
The ocean hugs the coast and kisses the sand,
to remind the land that it rules. 

Mumma,
from your bedroom window, you propelled paper planes
hoping they would reach your grandmother,
before the Pacific Ocean engulfed them,
and swept them to the sea floor,
amongst all the letters filled with lingering words, too longing to make their way home.
But the borders cut the line
of your Milo tin can telephone. 

Mumma,
You watched honey drip out of your sister’s mouth when she read you poetry. 
Colonial-minded teachers slapped her with dictionaries she had read at 10 years old,
reverberating in her mind that her mother taught her wrong.
She spoke the Queen’s English, but her skin talked before her lips could even open.


212 Days

123 days of school,                              and counting.
38 church services,                                           and counting.
4 haircuts,                                                                              and counting.
3 lost teeth,      and counting.
12 detentions,                      and counting.
8 track ribbons,       and counting.
1 birthday,                                   and counting.
16 victorious handball matches,      and counting. 

8 times school would not let daddy take me home
because an oriental man could not birth a porcelain child,                    and counting.
34 curries,                                                            and counting.
1 new feline friend,        and counting.
5 new human friends,                and counting.
1 broken arm,                             and counting.
32 trips to the beach,                  and counting. 

212 days without you,         and counting. 

Grandfather
My grandfather gave me a name that commands the full use of tongue,
Each syllable tells its own story. 
When spoken, it carries mountains.
Runs like a river through my ancestral tree and nourishes its roots.
Rolls off the tongue like sweet mango juice.
It carries with it hick fragrant turmeric,
It stains palm to palm at touch. 
It bites like a Bengal tiger, rolls like water off my back
Without it, half of myself is lost.
It will not allow me to trust anybody 
who does not appreciate each consonant.

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