Song Cycle of the Moon Bone
…The prawn is there, at the place of the Dugong, digging out mud with its claws
The hard-shelled prawn living there in the water, making soft little noises.
They are sitting about the camp, among the branches, along the
. back of the camp;
sitting along in lines in the camp, they’re in the shade of the paperbark
sitting along in a line, like the new white spreading clouds;
In the shade of the paperbarks, they’re sitting like resting clouds.
People of the clouds, living there like the mist; like the mist sitting
. resting with arms on knees,
In here towards the shade, in this Place, in the shadow of paperbarks.
Sitting there in rows, those Wonguri-Mandjigai people, paperbarks
. along like a cloud.
Living on cycad-nut bread; sitting there with white-stained fingers,
Sitting in there resting, those people of the Sandfly clan…
Sitting there like mist, at that place of the Dugong… And of the
. Dugongs Entrails…
Sitting resting there in the place of the Dugong…
In the place of the Moonlight Clay Pans, and at the place of the
There at that Dugong place they are sitting all along.
The prawn is there, at the place of the Dugong, digging out mud
. with its claws…
The hard-shelled prawn living there in the water, making soft little
It burrows into the mud and casts it aside, among the lilies…
Throwing aside the mud, with soft little noises…
Digging out mud with its claws at the place of the Dugong, the place
. of the Dugong’s Tail…
Calling the bone bukalili, The catfish bukalili, the frog bukalili, the
. sacred tree bukalili,
The prawn is burrowing, coming up, throwing aside the mud, and
Climbing up on to the Lotus plants and onto their pods…
(Note from book: bukalili mans sacred epithet, power name)
USED: The New Oxford Book of Australian Verse at Abebooks!
chosen by Les A. Murray