Within the stars, the great unseen river holds many risks: shoals, wild falls, cascades and deep water holes. But, the First Peoples of my land once taught that when your time comes to leave for the stars, you should not waste time arguing among yourself about who should lead the journey. Even the seeds of the lomatia bush, when blown before a tempest, show the safe path to the stars.

The First People had words for things we do not. That touch of cold, caused by the deliberate removal of the warmth of the fire was Ŋyínadyımíŋa.

As children, we were never told of the story of Patyegarang and Dawes.

Patyegarang (the name means gray kangaroo) was one of the guardians of the knowledge of the First Peoples of the land, versed in the ancient knowledge of the sky, of Currendelella.

Dawes was the astronomer for the First Fleet, the first great Europeon incursion onto the shores of Australia. Disagreeing with the Governor of the settlement, he built his observatory some distance from the first settlement.

Patyegarang refused to learn the words of Europeans. Instead, she taught Dawes the ancient words for things we do every day, and some of the things we no longer understand or forget we once understood.

She taught him “putuwá” (poo-too-wor): to warm one's hand by the fire and then to squeeze the fingers of another person gently. She taught him “boamere” (bo-a-mere): to blow with your breath. She taught him to play, to sing, to wink, to laugh, to tickle, to pinch, to bite, to hug, to kiss and to breathe. She taught him to walk, to talk about last night and to fly. She taught him to undress and how to make love. She taught him about dreams and tomorrow. She taught him about relationships: how two are enough. She taught him of sweethearts, of partnerships forged by time, and of relationships forged by place. And he told her he would stay for a very long time.

But, we chose to forget the past. Today we sometimes cannot see, even if it is right in front of us.

Image: Milky Way. Images based on chance impressions left in a colonial window pane.


Jai Baidell said…
Thank you, a lovely story and image. Be well.

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