I was out at Papunya, north-west of ‘the Alice’
when I first met Murphy, a Lyricha man...
the Lutheran pastor, a man of position,
but shy, self-effacing, a family man.
Now Murphy, he lived where the tribes had been 'mustered',
all pushed together in one little place.
Pitjanjarra, Lyricha, Pintubi, Warlpiri,
the way they were treated...a bloody disgrace!
Murphy had married a Pitjanjarra woman.
She bore him five babies, things looking great.
But she went with her People
to the place where they gathered
and herein she suffered a terrible fate.
For this white man's dreaming has killed Maralinga,
fences are down and the warnings obscured.
All they did were the things they had done there forever
and for that get a sickness which cannot be cured.
So this Mary, her body all riddled with cancer,
this proud tribal woman, quite stricken with pain,
will never see her little children as adults
nor wander the lands of her People again.
Murphy, stricken with grief for his motherless children,
missing his mate who he loved with his life,
sat in the red dust, weeping and keening,
striated his chest with the blade of a knife.
They lifted him on to an ambulance gurney,
rushed him into the Alice for medical aid.
His aim had been joining his bride ever-after,
to be placed in the crude grave in which she’d been laid.
Somehow they managed to rally his spirit,
took him back home to his children and kin;
but rarely he smiles now, he sees the injustice,
acknowledges what white man did was a sin.
Now Murphy’s a grandfather, his daughters are mothers,
his son is in college, a medical man.
Stanley works in Oncology, ironic significance,
a tribute to Mary, if anything can.
For my People
with the deepest respect.
© 2010 cherryk
(All rights reserved)