Anonymous Premonition

Anonymous Premonition

by Yvette Holt

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Overview

Anonymous Premonition by Yvette Holt

From an authentic, powerful indigenous voice comes this body of poetry that examines issues of identity and culture from a woman's point of view. Lyrical yet radical, uplifting yet uncompromising, this collection evokes pride, painful memories, the realities of Aboriginal life and death, and the power of sisterhood to act as a tribute to the resiliency of Aboriginal women everywhere.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780702235719
Publisher: University of Queensland Press
Publication date: 09/01/2008
Pages: 90
Product dimensions: 5.00(w) x 7.60(h) x 0.40(d)

About the Author

Yvette Holt is a lecturer on Aboriginal women's studies at the University of Queensland, and in 2005 won the David Unaipon Award for unpublished Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander authors.

Read an Excerpt

Anonymous Premonition


By Yvette Holt

University of Queensland Press

Copyright © 2008 Yvette Holt
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-0-7022-5059-0



CHAPTER 1

    4077


    Ballroom Romancing


    It was the late 1960s
    Outside Hicksville county
    In western Queensland
    A clash of two cultures
    The original sin
    Town folks would whisper
    A settler's gin
    Workmates would remind him
    And town folks would ignore her
    They were always going to make it
    But at the time
    They just didn't know how
    An exceptional couple
    Desperately in love
    Nothing was going to stop them
    Shooting stars at the Saturday night dance
    They moved like Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers
    So eloquent on their feet
    From a small country town to the bright city lights
    Together they shifted a universe


    The Grandest Final

    As a little girl growing up
    I always wanted to play football
    And for that any excuse would do
    Rugby league was the name of the game
    There wasn't a soccer ball
    Or a VFL ball in sight

    Cricket begrudgingly outlasted the summer
    And tin garbage bins
    Came in handy for street wickets
    It was never a clash of the genders
    Because only the boys were playing footy
    On our block
    Girls were usually relegated
    To footy as a spectator's sport
    Quickly advancing to
    annoying footpath hecklers

    The boys would be at it
    Hogging the afternoon's tranquillity
    With thunderous tackles
    And skilful ankle taps
    Their quick sprints up the gravelled driveway
    Sounded like the clap of a dozen Phar Laps
    Galloping along the side fence
    Eventually teams were lining the backyard

    Oh how I longed to kick that pig skin
    High above the roof
    Then grab it with an acrobatic catch
    Showing off
    my love of the sport

    Yep those were the days
    When backyard footy was playful
    Exciting and twice as unpredictable
    My brothers played for St Marks
    They were shining stars on the field
    But I suppose every kid sister
    Sees their big brothers
    As gladiatorial football heroes

    Every Saturday or Sunday
    We sat there watching them
    Mum and Dad were as proud as punch
    We never missed a match
    I remember when Alan's division
    Won the under 12s grand final in 1977
    By that stage I wanted my own
    Pair of footy boots and knee-high socks to match
    Victory was ours

    After that I became the real Calamity Jane
    In between chopping up my doll's clothes
    And painting my toenails
    With bright red bingo markers
    I wanted to be just like those footy players
    That came wrapped inside shiny collectible cards
    And when you opened the packet
    They smelt like raspberry bubblegum
    Posing with their team mates
    I thought about being the ball girl
    For my family, volunteering my time
    Handing out peeled oranges
    And passing around frozen cordial cups
    But apparently that was not to be

    Instead I would sit for hours watching my brothers
    Passing the ball back and forth
    Scrumming with their mates
    Almost every kid in the neighbourhood
    At some stage of their adolescence
    Had passed through our backyard
    The sun would set on the final tackle

    Mum would whistle for suppertime
    And suddenly black, white and brindle
    Legs would vanish over the fence
    Until the next afternoon
    Then they were at it again brothers in arms
    Starting it up
    Chasing that elusive score line

    Our old wooden housing commission fence
    Took a proper beating
    It was turned into a makeshift goal post
    For much of the season
    The clothesline would be left shaking uncontrollably
    Pegs flying in every conceivable direction
    I would scamper across the yard
    Like a pardoned mouse
    Collecting them in my arms

    One or two television aerials
    Came through the matches a little worse for wear
    Our slice of suburban patch
    Footy in the '70s
    Surviving many neighbourhood battles
    Wounded pride and bandaged knees
    In our own private backyard Lang Park
    The grandest final ever performed
    Remains etched inside my childhood memories

It Takes a Village

(For Simone Tyson)

As I watch the sun go down
I know playtime is almost over
because we just sit in the darkness
with shadows and whispers by our side
I search in the distance seeking community
We all plan what our next project of life will be
as a small child, watching and learning,
learning and waiting
Time increases a lot of pain and sorrow
but the good times and laughter are never
left far behind
'cause we just get out of control
we street children like to keep on going
A life without sunshine is hard to survive
Our children's souls will be shattered
and pit-less, kicked around like
recycled cardboard
Shall we remain just another portrait for
you to cry on
or will the promise of darkness
bring forward new light?


    The Old School Days

    In 1982 my best friend
    Sat beside me in the playground at school

    As usual we were playing jacks
    And exchanging fruit

    We couldn't wait to remove our shoes at recess
    And start rolling our toes in the cool damp sand

    But today felt different
    Something had changed

    I asked her if everything was okay
    Because she didn't seem her chattering self

    That day I learned more about emotions
    Than I dare to remember

    Some of the best-kept secrets
    Are embraced by fear

    Fear likes to masquerade
    As seashells of trust

    On the cumbersome shores of youth
    The old school days receding but not forgotten

    She told me two nights ago
    Her uncle had hurt her vagina

    She said he twisted her body
    And made her cry

    I was scared and confused
    I didn't know what a vagina was

    I remember feeling sad
    And burying my feet into the now chilly sand

    She was trying to be brave
    I felt like an idiot

    My heart was falling out of my chest
    And I didn't know why

    She held my hand
    Then shrugged her shoulders

    As we began to climb
    The meandering monkey bars

    Carefree episodes
    Of my best mate and I

    In the prime of our childhood
    Swinging from side to side

    Until the mid-morning school bell
    Pierced our silence

    We came crashing down onto
    A quilt of pine needles and brown paper sandwich bags

    We packed up our lunch boxes
    Dusting our feet and headed for class

    The next day
    I waited for my best friend

    Like so many mornings before
    In front of the school gates

    I waited and waited
    For more than two weeks

    My best friend never returned
    So one afternoon I decided

    To bicycle through her street
    I found their house, it looked vacant and empty

    I felt sick in the tummy
    And cried in their driveway

    The last time we spoke about her uncle
    Was in the playground at school

    I still think about my old best friend
    Twenty-five years later

    Her delicate face
    Haunting the Year 7 class photo

    A Jupiter smile
    So wide and bright

    I wished at that moment
    Inside those playground walls

    I'd had the right words
    To comfort her world

    We were eleven years old
    Sisters in arms playing for keeps

    I remember her courage
    As if it were only yesterday

    Graduating from the confessional sandbox
    The old school days, restless memories that never sleep

CHAPTER 2

    Inamorata


    Woman


    Carrying shadows over shoulders
    A backpack of drawings and time
    Painting the nylon sky with bare hands
    And listening with my eyes
    I read books
    Too many books
    My cup runneth over
    Between too many pages
    In heels I walk
    5 foot 10 inches of decoration
    I tolerate ignorance
    And respect resilience
    Bruising like sweetly peach
    Yet somehow always recover
    Growing like music and skin
    I am shaped by the women in my life
    Closing all the windows and cupboards
    I hear babies rattling at night
    Crossing the corners of my speechless bedroom
    They follow me as if I have the answers
    I don't have any answers
    Only too many questions
    I mourn for the children
    Who were taken away
    I weep for the grandmothers who will never know
    I freeze, I break and I cry
    Woman, sometimes I am too afraid
    Of putting the little girl to rest


    Storyteller

    Hey girl
    Who your mob
    Where you from

    Who's your mother
    What's your father's name
    You not from around here eh

    You must be a long way from home
    You look familiar
    When you ready we'll talk

    But you'll need to listen
    'cause you're not ready yet
    You talk too much

    You need to open your eyes
    No more talkin'
    Just listen

    One day you come back eh
    You come back here
    You sit on dirt floor of my country

    And you listen
    You listen to the stars turning at night
    They help you, you know

    They bring you here
    They see everything
    That night sky them follow you

    They look after you too
    Good spirits
    They know who your people

    You not lost girl
    When you ready
    You'll be back

    You see girl
    Today, it's not your time
    Our story it waits for you

Through My Eyes

(In Memory of Lisa M. Bellear)

When I look at Aboriginal Women I see Murri, Koori,
Nungah,
Nyungar, Yolngu and Palawa
I see more than forty thousand years of strength, courage
and determination in animation
I look at Aboriginal Women and I rejoice, relate, receive
Some day the spirit of our ancestors will carry each one of
us
on a far, faraway journey
Elevating above red earth with regal black skin
circling the sun – renewer of life
Look beyond our reflection and you'll see our Grandmother
and her Mother's Mother
Those lines on her face are an atlas to our past
This Woman stands with amazing grace
Being born Woman is learning about the struggle, being born
Black and Woman is knowing how to survive
I celebrate knowing the struggle
For I too am Woman with heritage, spirit and pride
Indigenous Women have carried the weight of oppression
on the strength of their hips, breathing life into our culture
and
nurturing our Grandmother's Mother's Mother
When I look at Aboriginal Women today I see history, past,
present and future


    I Am

    I am Aboriginal art
    I am flora and fauna

    Indigenous to this land
    I have Irish

    Afghan
    Chinese

    Polynesian
    And Spanish heritage

    I know who I am
    And I know where I belong

    I am an urban Murri woman
    Living between two worlds

    I am the Dreaming of my ancestors
    I am the Daughter of the song

    I am all of the above
    Proud, Black and Strong


    Motherhood

    (Dedicated to Cheyenne Holt)

    I love my suburban backyard and sharing it with you
    lying on the trampoline just mother and daughter
    and making funny animal shapes out of the soft
    marshmallow clouds

    then when night falls we begin to count the twinkling stars
    on our hands and feet
    laughing at the passing red kangaroos flying high above our
    mango tree
    I love watching you transplant a leaf from our garden as
    you
    impatiently wait for it to grow

    (sometimes I squint while trying on new clothes in front of
    you though because no matter what I buy or choose to wear I
    always seem to end up looking like a six foot-tall full-figured
    Barbie doll or maybe even a Ken)

    I like playing big sissy with you and rolling around on my
    bed begging you to stop tickling me until I fall hard onto
    the
    floor then I get all too serious and fed up but you just laugh
    hysterically and say 'C'mon mummy that was fun let's do
    it
    again'

    I look forward to dancing with you every Sunday morning
    and
    singing 'I am woman hear me roar' karaoke style with my
    tired
    and worn-out hair brush
    I love calling you from interstate and telling you I'll be
    home
    tomorrow (there are so many things I love about
    motherhood
    but we keep it real and have our fair share of difficult
    moments
    too like homework time, always radioactive in our neck of
    the woods or asking you to clean out your bedroom for the
    umpteenth time because I'm unable to see the carpet)
    and yes I know I totally freaked out when you told your
    school
    friends that Mr Bean was really your father because at the
    next
    P & C meeting I felt like the black adder

    but through it all if motherhood were a mountain then
    you've
    taken me to the highest peak and if daughters were flowers
    growing in the garden you would always be my one
    and only sweet


    Childhood

    (In Honour of Tea Parties)

    Can somebody please tell me
    why it is that little girls
    like to rummage through
    their mother's blanket box.

    On rainy days,
    armed with teacups and matching saucers,
    they carry on as though
    it were an open-market day in your bedroom.

    What is this fascination
    with silk scarves and winter-high boots,
    coat-hangers and grandma's sewing tin
    lay strewn across secret novels above dressing tables.

    There is an enormous silence
    inhabiting the bedroom.
    Curiosity demands to know what they are up to.

    You call out to your children by their first, second and
    surname,
    gently interrupting their playtime.


    Home Sweet Home

    blue
    skies
    light

    sounds
    sun
    glaring

    plane
    spotting
    distance

    melaleuca
    macadamia
    mangos

    fabric softener
    hills hoist
    eucalyptus
    disinfectant

    wooden pegs
    ebony underwear
    kookaburras

    disfigured swings
    compost
    tree house

    improper branches
    dandelions
    corrugated iron
    upstairs
    phone rings
    missed calls

    bull ants
    clover
    subtle neighbours

    menstruating
    thinking
    rinsing

    broad
    clay
    feet

    bleeding
    kneeling
    Mother Earth

    sinking
    floating
    waiting

    distraction
    amazing
    hysterical

    water
    drought
    consumption

    just another
    laundry day
    images

    dancing
    parading
    idle

    lost inside
    the moment
    in my beloved

    sacred
    herstorical
    urban backyard

CHAPTER 3

    Seasonal Change


    Primary Education


    In year one I was the quiet native
    Two years later the friendly coloured girl
    By year five, it was I, the inquisitive aborigine
    Entering high school everyone wanted to be indigenous
    When I disagreed with conformity, they would whisper, 'is
    it
    because she's black?'

    On my very first day at work I was asked 'what nationality
    are
    you', when I told them I was Aboriginal they replied, 'But
    you
    look so clean'.

    Last year, hailing a taxi in George Street, Sydney, the
    driver
    asks, 'Where are you from?' I ask the driver to take a wild
    guess, after surveying the paying customer sitting in the
    back
    seat, he triggers the meter then casually replies, 'You sure
    don't
    sound koori because you speak English very well'.

    There are some days when 'others' may need to persevere
    with my silence ... because there are some days when I
    may
    no longer have the inclination nor the fucking head space
    to
    educate your reply.

Against the Odds

When I was 21 years of age
I broke seven mirrors
In seven days
They tell me
That's 49 years bad luck
It's not looking good
21 plus 49
Equals 70
Will I live to see that age?
Statistically speaking
I will cheat superstition
By death
What a way to beat the odds


(Continues...)

Excerpted from Anonymous Premonition by Yvette Holt. Copyright © 2008 Yvette Holt. Excerpted by permission of University of Queensland Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

Contents

Title Page,
I: 4077,
Ballroom Romancing,
The Grandest Final,
It Takes a Village,
The Old School Days,
II: Inamorata,
Woman,
Storyteller,
Through My Eyes,
I Am,
Motherhood,
Childhood,
Home Sweet Home,
III: Seasonal Change,
Primary Education,
Against the Odds,
Close The Gap,
Serving It Up,
A Writer's Chopping Block,
Mr Big,
Words ...,
Anonymous Premonition,
September Rain,
Dream Catcher,
The Crimson Divide,
Seasonal Change,
IV: Resilience,
Win, Lose or Draw,
Approximate Despair,
A Line in the Sand,
The Afterbirth of Rape,
Custodial Seeds,
V: Bon Voyage,
Brand New Day,
Aotearoa,
A Traveller's Journal,
Atlantic Whispers,
Acoustic Lover,
Once Bitten,
True Colours,
Jämt Och Ständigt,
VI: Kevin,
Visiting Hours,
Caretaker of Time,
VII: My River City,
Happy New Year,
Hope Street via Skid Row,
The River City,
Bossy Nova,
My Bad,
La Catrina,
Moon Whisper,
Trippin' Over Your Tongue,
Paper Trailing,
Acknowledgments,
Copyright,

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