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Between Two Worlds

Remote Indigenous communities...

destitution, drug taking, sex offending, violence,

poverty, powerlessness, government interventions, despair



A ceremony held since the dawning of time.

Family groups travelling hundreds of miles across potholed tracks in broken down wrecks.

Gathering in their hundreds, housed, fed, loved.

Sisters, mothers, daughters, grandmothers and aunties
preening, sharing, laughing, gossiping.


Glistening, proud, muscular sons, fathers, brothers, uncles, grandfathers painted, gliding and stomping

singing, spears quivering.

Shaking the earth, calling the ancestors


Certain of who they are, where they belong


holding at bay a fractured calling from the west.

Night time as dark and silent as our imagination allows

Night owls, crickets


winds of eternity, and loneliness,

kept at bay,

placated by clap sticks and ancient voices

across ancient lands

biding time, welcoming the dawn


a ritualistic cleansing is enacted,


a baptismal rebirth, re-affirming all that is eternal

traditional obligations in contemporary lives

beacons for navigating two complex worlds.


Russell Irving, Arnhem Land, Northern Territory 2016

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