Academic journal article Hecate

Footprints

Academic journal article Hecate

Footprints

Article excerpt

For Molly Craig, who died January 16, 2004, aged 87. In 1931 she escaped with her younger sister and cousin from a mission station where they had been taken after forcible removal from their families, and trekked through 1,600 kilometres of semi-desert, following the route of the rabbit-proof fence, to rejoin their community.

When last she ran to your embrace

her feet could fit into your hands;

they nestled warmly in your palms,

two little quails that smelt of grasses,

pair of bare, pink heels that darted

shyly on your dreaming-trails,

quickening your heart alone in darkness.

Holding your daughter's small, warm heels

like talismans against your fears,

you murmured in her drowsy ear

the stories of that epic trek - you, her mother,

child again, leading the two younger ones,

fleeing from the snares the white men set,

from drawn-out, living death,

beside the fence the strangers built to keep

the rabbit hordes in check. People who need

fences will imprison anything, you guessed.

Your feet remember every step - your feet,

those uncomplaining friends, who bore the thorns,

the bruising stones, the distances, as best they could.

Always to the south they led, to campfires

by the river-bed, the soft earth underfoot

that told you 'welcome, daughter, welcome back. …

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