Thursday afternoons we looked for bush tucker.
That day the tiny flies that are the native honey bees
licked our skin for salt & it tickled.
So the kids searched for the hive high in a tree
screaming with delight when it was found.
Dinny, 5o+ walked straight up the smooth white trunk
& carefully along the limb with a short axe,
sat down & wrapped his legs for purchase.
He chopped away, chips flying down
While the kids chanted & danced encouragement.
The limb crashed & the hive dropped to the ground.
We all dug in & ate the sweet black honey
Swallowing bees mixed with sticks & leaves.
Dinny waved & went back to camp.
& the kids took off in another direction.
I followed their fading voices.When I crashed out of the bush
firm white salt pan
reflecting the glare & the clear blue sky,
Bare, brilliant, overwhelming.
Absolute, utter silence.
No bird calls.
No footprints that I could see.
Only Frog hill in the distance.The kids far ahead, big girls carrying the little ones.
As I walked towards them merged into a huddle.
Bowed faces staring down looking at the saltpan.
Wondering, I joined the huddle & bent over to look at that spot, I saw the shadows, the texture of the sand, our feet. Then I said, ‘What is this place?’ ‘This Eunice place.’
Friday by the river I said to Benjamin aged 6,
‘What is your guardian animal?
‘Water goanna,’ sir, I’ll show you.
Benjamin waved & took me to his place.We climbed up on to a fallen tree by the river.
He pointed to a hollow, ‘my mother had me here.
She had her feet like this.
The water goanna was watching me come out.’The big kids looked around for crocodile signs.
They nodded, ‘nothing’ & smiled.
The girls swam in long missionary dresses,
fabric trailing through the water.Some kids plastered themselves with mud
& lay in the sun to bake.
When dry they leapt from trees into the river
shouting at the top of their voices.