Spirit Remains by Lorna Munro
Guwayu – For All Times is a collection of First Nations poems commissioned by Red Room Poetry over the past 16 years. The collection is edited by Wiradjuri poet, Dr Jeanine Leane, produced by Red Room Poetry and published by Magabala Books. For NAIDOC Week, we celebrate First Nations voices with a poem shared by Lorna Munro.
I am as old as time
I am fluid like spoken rhyme
I am still here, even if you refuse to listen to my lesson
I am wise beyond my years, though I wear the clothes of an adolescent
I am confined amongst your ‘good will’ please spare me your blessing
I am hungry for change although I am weary of the sinister inner essence
I am still here amid your secret transgressions
I am present
I am unknown
I am that eerie shiver you feel when you’re alone
I refuse to leave, this is my home!
I am the gulf, the bay and the cove
I bin ‘ere’ long-time, I have watched this place grow
I continue to transcend beyond the skies, over the seas and deep below
I am a stubborn child, refusing to walk in your shadow
I am the thing in between, hereafter, the very thing you are too afraid to know
I forever sing nature’s song, my ode to ole father crow
I inspired the city beats with the sound of my mismatched feet, each step thundering an enormous blow
I will remain here even if you choose to go …
I control young minds, load warriors up with the knowledge of guerrilla ammo
I counteract your propaganda with my lyrical skills and my righteous flow.
I am responsible for your paranoia, I am the force that turns the most conservative to ‘gung-ho’
The very acknowledgement of my existence will force closure of your place of business and from your property you will have to forgo
I am chaotic
I am still the same
I make sandstone structures shake and quiver at the mention of my name
I am enigmatic
Heartfelt, vengeful and a little dramatic
I am forever studied, questions can’t be answered from where or whence I came
I smile at young women, they praise my face and sing to me but never in vain
Wise men talk about me, boys line up to play my game
They are told to beware my disguises and are warned of the bringer of pain
I represent the long line of light, an eternal unbroken chain
I had a beloved I adored, you destroyed their spirit in your attempt to tame
I am condemned to watch on helpless as you assimilate, torture and continue to maim
I shall remain in spite of the permanent tear flooded stain
With oppressed thoughts of immense disdain
Recognise my right, you have nothing left to gain
What am I you ask, who is the cause for such discontent, what is to blame?
Know that it is I, the law of this land, the creator, the maker of rain
I am the core, the spirit, the giver of life, and I can take it back again.
Lorna’s poem is published in Red Room Company’s Anthology Guwayu, For All Times, a collection of First Nations poems commissioned by Red Room Poetry over the past 16 years.
“Guwayu – for all times is a remarkable collection of words and voices from Indigenous poets of many nations and communities working on sovereign Country. Guwayu gathers not only the strength, creative and cultural vitality of Indigenous poets, but simply, within these pages you will read some of the best and most exciting artists writing in Australia today. This ensemble of literary warriors have gathered to shake us from our slumber. Their offerings are provocative and generous, and we, the readers and listeners, are fortunate to be in their presence.” – Tony Birch
Lorna Munro, or ‘Yilinhi’, is a Wiradjuri and Gamilaroi woman, multidisciplinary artist and regular radio and podcast host at Sydney’s Radio Skid Row. A long-time active member of her Redfern/Waterloo community, her work is informed by her passion and well-studied insight in areas such as culture, history, politics and popular culture. Lorna has travelled the world showcasing her skills and distinctive style of poetry and political commentary. She was also the sole designer and creator of Sydney’s—and possibly Australia’s—first initiative to teach Aboriginal language through poetry, in partnership with Red Room Poetry in 2015. Throughout her career she has been on stage, in films and on paper. She compiled and edited Paper Dreaming: Our Stories Our Way for Cambridge University Press (2015). Lorna continues to work tirelessly mastering many art forms, raising funds, and supporting and advocating for her community and her people on the local, national and international stage. In 2019, Lorna was announced as a recipient of the Wheeler Centre’s Next Chapter Fellowship.
Image: Courtesy Red Room Company – Guwayu, For All Times.
Published: 11 November 2020