He awoke from a dream of bones.
A stone-wrought ossuary festooned with wonga-wonga vine and
pollen-heavy yellow bursts of wattle.
Where wallabies and wombats grazed on the sharp thin blades of what posed for grass.
And wasn’t it sad how death followed them out here, too,
to this upside-down world where swans were black and even the gentlest creatures were dangerous?
As though God Himself had abandoned them to become part of the red soil and feed the ghost gums
Their faces turned to home, pining for a land that forced them into exile
on stinking ships and into camps to labour for the glory of the King’s expanding empire.
Here the sun travelled in the northern half of the sky and the birds sang strange songs.
Where the trees did not change colour in the autumn.
Somehow he carried the memories of his ancestors,
and their strange second-sight that saw through time:
layered over the wild granite peaks were visions of spirits,
of beings far more ancient than even the venerable Old Country;
phantoms who wept over the desecrated land as the blood of their lost children mingled with the melting snow.
And here in this place, where pale skin was burned red by the burning sun.
A disembodied voice whispered to him from that other space,
As though the skulls in his fading dream were crying out across so vast a chasm
That they now became an echo on the morning breeze. Cries of injustice hung in the air over this place.
He knew he should never have come back here – to this town, to this farm
Where whispers told him that something out there waited for him,
To drag him into the mausoleum disguised as a bushman’s hut.