Poem 2 (5.2)

 Teesta Review: A Journal of Poetry, Volume 5, Number 2. November 2022. ISSN: 2581-7094


Wiradjuri word meaning: Home Country

---Jessika Spencer


My home country

is red dirt on

sweeping flat plains

the Murrumbidgee flows

through the centre

like a bloodline

it carries sacred songlines

that the white man could

never replace


Car exhaust fumes don’t choke up

the clear skies

that roll on for miles here,

only to change quietly

at night for

a blanket of stars

I swear they are

the brightest you’ll ever see


Here, crammed city apartments


and pollution

are replaced by

fresh air

and staunch sisters

collecting lomandra

by the water’s edge


Country is strong

her strength is paying

homage to the ancestors

that loved and nurtured her

you can still see that now

in the clean waterways,

the heavy eucalypts that spread

their arms out to shelter,

kuracca that watch over

their voices loud from the sky


Scarred trees and

shelter trees

line the river

standing tall and strong

like matriarchs


My Nans house

is love

and laughter

bursting at the seams,

with too many bodies crammed inside

a small space,

aunties and cousins

arms and legs hanging out

the windows



red dirt country

you are my backbone

my connection to you

will always be strong

Wiradjuri country,

you are home,

where I will

forever belong



---Jessika Spencer


“If we have children, will they be Aboriginal?”

my Irish ex-boyfriend

asks me seriously,

scrutinising my facial expression


The ignorance stuns me

what else could an

Aboriginal woman produce

if not Aboriginal children?


 “What percentage are you?”

a white woman asks me

waiting for me to

answer back with a statistic


I am silent

all the while thinking

of my Nans stories

from back home on the mission,

of dancing on the sandhills


“But you don’t look Aboriginal”

I am told in the

middle of a meeting

in my first month of working

as an “Indigenous Trainee”


My heart sinks and anger flares

as though my fair skin

isn’t the result of genocide,


and the white policy;


As though my skin tone

isn’t the result

of what your ancestors

did to mine


I am my country

just as my country,

culture and community

are me

those songlines,


run deep




--- Jessika Spencer


I am the cliff face

of the mountains,

the uneven escarpment

that scales my



A clean


drop down

into the deep

sea below,


I am no longer



or removing

my awaiting

jagged edges

for anyone





Genocide II

---Jessika Spencer


The three colours

I used to wear like armour

my hands now disown

my body recoils from

the sight of them,

the colours are now


they feel hollow


no longer

our own


I used to march beneath you

holding you way up high

weaving you through

the streets of Yabun

on Survival Day

the sweat dripping down my back,

down the face of the sisters

standing tall

around me


I used to wear you


you gave me

my strength

on days I couldn’t

stand on my own

two feet,

but now

I no longer recognise you

there’s a stranger in my home

you are

the car besides me at the lights,

that I don’t want to look at

in the eye


Aunties are still fighting for you,

all three of you,

they’re in Parliament House

with voices raised high

and fists even higher

wanting to be heard,

but they’re not,

unsurprising given the white sheep’s

governing the top


My cousins still wear you

adorning their ears

but I can’t,

not anymore,


He chose profit

over pride

And that I will never

be able to let rest,

that I will never

be able to



Interliminal Encounters: Indian and Australian writers in po(i)etic dialogue, eds Amelia Walker and Aden Burg