The blue crane fishing in Cooloola’s twilight
has fished there longer than our centuries.
He is the certain heir of lake and evening,
and he will wear their colour till he dies,
but I’m a stranger, come of a conquering people.
I cannot share his calm, who watch his lake,
being unloved by all my eyes delight in,
and made uneasy, for an old murderer’s sake.
Those dark skinned people who once named Cooloola
knew that no land is lost or won by wars,
for earth is spirit: the invader’s feet will tangle
in nets there and his blood be thinned by fears.
Riding at noon and ninety years ago,
My grandfather was beckoned by a ghost-
a black accoutred warrior armed for fighting,
who sank into bare plain, as now into time past.
White shores of sand, plumed reed and paperbark,
clear heavenly levels frequented by crane and swan-
I know that we are justified only by love,
but oppressed by arrogant guilt, have room for none.
And walking on clean sand among the prints
of bird and animal, I am challenged by a driftwood spear
thrust from the water; and, like my grandfather,
must quiet a heart accused by its own fear.