song of longing (haibun)

toomba-creekacross a wide land
the snaking path of the river
rainbow light

rocky outcrop
the body of an ancestor spirit
casts shade

First of all apologies. Apologies to every aboriginal person whose eyes I have avoided because I could not bear your pain, I could not bear what my people have done, are still doing, to your people. I am sorry. Even when I was a child I knew the great wells of sadness in your eyes and how they can change in an instant to humour, the depth of love there, the depth of grief. And I am sorry.

I grew up on Country. I don’t know whose Country, just that I loved it. It fed my body and my bones grew.

in miles of bush
the dark haired child

pathless path
spinifex stings
on thin legs

Interesting that, though I knew nothing of aboriginal culture at the time, I knew there were places I should not go and places that welcomed my small female body with mother’s arms.

Dad showed me bora rings once. They were circles and paths edged with white stones amid the thin shade of lanky bush trees. We stood amongst them, where once ceremonies were performed, feet danced the earth, songs and clapsticks filled the air.

shimmering heat
just the whine of flies
amid stones

The whole area was dotted with stones. One could miss the bora rings. Dad said he and my brothers had ridden past for years not seeing. Perhaps the spirit of the land had accepted them enough to open their eyes.

The aboriginal people say the Dreamtime (creation) is not only some distant past, it is also now. Creation is still happening. It is why they must dance the totems of the animals, plants, birds, and earth. They must sing the paths of ancestor beings.

dust puffs
from black feet
rhythm sticks

Apparently the songlines cross the country. If one knows the song, one would never get lost on that unmapped path even though they extend thousands of kilometres across land never seen. And they must be sung.

I hope there is a songline from where I live now in South Australia to the North Queensland country of my youth because my heart sings the songs of both places and sometimes my eyes are sad for the other.

rolling hills and farmlands
my heart in the rocky places
of my youth

Carpe Diem #473, Creation 

54 thoughts on “song of longing (haibun)

  1. Marvelous, Belinda! What a talent…what a poetic gift…what a spirit beating within you. I am honored to call you my friend. 🙂


  2. What a heart knitting piece this is. I want to learn more about song lines. I think they’re all around the world, not just in the land down under. I’ve heard them singing. It seemed to me that the rocks sang. I was troubled when I found them silent. Thanks for opening my heart more to the the validity of these other kinds of listening. 🙂

    1. There is a wonderful book by Bruce Chatwin called “Songlines” about his travels and the aboriginal culture. I am not sure exactly how true to their culture it actually is, but fairly close I think. he told some secrets he shouldn’t have apparently. but the book is really worth a read. it brings up just how sacred the land is, every bit of it.
      As for hearing the songs of rocks. I have heard them too. deep sounds that your not sure if you hear with ears or the belly.

      1. “deep sounds that your not sure if you hear with ears or the belly.” Yes. the rocks sing exactly like this. I’m glad to have this experience validated outside my immediate family. 🙂

        Thanks for the book referral. I just ordered it from the library.

  3. Belinda, You really shine in this. I love the songlines, so beautiful. I love that creation is still happening. That is so wise, so thrilling an idea. I love the idea that the dreamtime is creation time. Such poetry, wisdom and stillness. A listening comes through. You have listened. And now I have. Perhaps that is the magic of songlines — one must listen. I loved this!! Warmly, Brenda

    1. In the aboriginal cosmology, The Dreamtime was when everything was created, when the ancestor beings made the earth sky people etc, but that time includes now. I have always thought the creation is an ongoing thing.
      It would be interesting to find out if the aboriginal songlines correspond to ley lines.
      and yes, listening with all senses is a thing I am glad I never grew out of.
      🙂 B

  4. You’ve created a marvelous tribute to the follicles of humanity: our imperfections follow us throughout history, and never seem to dissipate. You’ve expressed it with compassion and warmth. But some of us show reverence for Mother Nature and her abundant glory.

  5. Awesome Belinda … what a strong spiritual haibun you share here with us … what an adventure your youth must have been … following in the steps of the Aboriginals …. following in their Dreamtime … Thank you for sharing.

  6. wow. aloha Belinda. this is a beautiful potent heart wrenching work. heart felt. even I know it. you’ve written it and said it well.

    my songlines would run across the ocean. I have no doubt that if I could sing them I’d find my way to the lands where I grew up as well.

    heart song
    each river flow season
    this ever sound

      1. thank you. when i ku like this it comes out spontaneously most of the time. i consider it raw. and i like it this way. it’s easy for me to over think and over work things. this one, as is and the paragraph before it i liked enough to copy and save them. i may tweak the paragraph a bit. but the ku may be harder to touch. thanks to your inspiring haibun.

  7. Man oh man where to start….this would fit so well on a papyrus scroll or bark, or cloth, to hand from a wall, in a home. A work of art that could be re-read now and then, for its rich information, humanity, haiku and synergy of all. Unparalleled piece.

  8. That’s beautiful. I feel the spirit of the land down here in my part of Oz too. Your haiku really captures the feeling of being out in the wilder parts of the country

        1. In the hills near Lobethal. I’ve only travelled the ocean road twice. Once in hell with a soon to be ex boyfriend, and once at some leisure. Beautiful country.

        2. I haven’t been in your part of South Australia for a long time – it’s very pretty over there. I’m at the tail end of the Great Ocean Road in Warrnambool.

  9. Thanks for sharing this! It’s so refreshing to be reminded that creation ongoing and there are those who truly listen to the music of the land. And I agree about the music of rocks. I’ve heard them too. Definitely a deep sound, almost a lament.

  10. Lovely, Belinda…

    Songlines is one of my treasured books. A few years ago I picked a small converted stable for honeymoon. When we arrived, the blurb told us that Bruce Chatwin had stayed and written his novel, ‘ on black hill,’ there…( Shropshire, England ) I think his voice best suited his travel writing, Songlines is just beautiful.


    1. oh, it really is isn’t it. Apparently he ended up in the poo with some aboriginal custodians though because he wrote of some things that were ‘secret business’.
      I haven’t read “on Black Hill’.
      btw, i’m enjoying your paintings again. I’m thinking of starting visual stuff again soon…

      1. I wonder what the ‘secret business’ was..probably the songs reverberating to life with the bones of the telling…I haven’t been painting or writing for what seems to long..probably over a month..really easy to get out of the habit and move on..but I might break silence with a haibun..( move on to what though??!!)

        1. the secret business would be something pertaining to a specific place or rite. probably some initiatory men’s business. some knowledge was for men, some for women. usually to do with sexuality and fertility I think. there were a lot of taboos. for e.g. women were not (and are still not) meant to play the didgeridoo.
          As for moving on. I have had a big break from painting. (like years) so goodness knows what i’ll do. if i do.

  11. This is a terrific piece. Living in Canada but having grown up in the United States (colonialized places, stolen lands), I can relate a great deal to these lines:

    “I grew up on Country. I don’t know whose Country, just that I loved it. It fed my body and my bones grew.”

    I often think that my evolving understanding of the injustice -the ongoing injustices- is my mind’s attempt to catch up to what my body learned right from the start by nestling up close to the land.

    Again, this is beautiful writing.

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