Robin Teese: ‘Smoke Ceremony’

Smoke Ceremony 

They are holding a smoke ceremony at our school.

We stand in line, and then advance, coughing through the dark plumes sweeping up from the fireground,

We listen to the Noongah chant,

Breathe in the fumes of burning flaming eucalyptus,


circling from above,

            as though expected,

                        a crow—you might call him “raven”—

swoops down through the smoke.


“So, who invited him?” is my first thought—

But then

the elder’s words swirl my world about:

“Welcome to our honoured guest, brother Wardung, sacred to Country.”


And then questions, like flapping frenzied wings, wheel through my mind:


Why do we want to stone the bloody crows?

Why do we hunt them out of habitat?

Why do we bristle at their melancholy call?


Or is it just me,

A belated visitor to this land,

as the wardung, eyeing me from high above,

Caws to his fellow birds:

“So … who invited him? 

Robin Teese


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