A wandering Aramaen was my ancestor.
With Sarai, become Sarah, sturdily his love,
lovingly his companion.
Together welcoming the Strangers.
He ran to greet, heartily
at the news they spoke.
Like them, the wise scholarly great grandfather
wandered from Vekshnai
now the place of muddy street, desolate view and stolen houses.
Once cradling fertile foods,
They lullabied thoughts of forever. Long before
I arrived, seeking the Wainers’ grave,
In the place that begat rabbis, shopowners, children.
They begat the kishhh–kishhh of skaters in winter,
In summer the flowing Venta splashes the joy of swimming music,
Their generations of shtetl learning, births, deaths and marriages.
A centre of substantial commerce, land, prayer and laughter more plentiful
Than those Others, on the other side of the river. Below the soft
Overlong moss of earthworms’ brown perfume,
Lies a grave Wainer stone. He was buried in 1654.
A wandering scholar turned master tailor for the Czar,
My great-grandfather was a citizen of the Paris of the East,
His family home is now prime real estate, a tourist
Footnote: creative freedom and daring opulence
their art Nouveau home
That begat my grandfather.
A wandering son, not yet my grandfather sent on a boat to South Africa
His father’s choices: The Czar
army’s convenant with death;
Chop off his gun-shooting-finger; Hide him like Moses or send him,
an unaccompanied minor, a boat-people
Across worlds to asylum somewhere further south
To life, l’chaim, his father chose for him
An illegal fleer choosing the bare-bones of life.
My grandfather begat a gem, Isaac. Like Sarah’s son his name
Means laughter. Loving education, educating with love
his life at home and on stage, playing piano, enchanting with song.
And then, in wrinkles leaving his photo in the hall of fame he packed
and scrubbed and with his wife, my mum
together they joined me.
Leaving behind again a Wainer, my brother’s grave
But what are all the wanderings I continue to wonder.
I wonder about Sarah my great grandmother,
bearing her cancer as her boy went South.
I wonder about my mother bearing grief for her boy as she went East.
I wonder about unaccompanied minors and asylum seekers and a new Czar in the South:
Detention Centres, island prisons, deaths
Of heart and mind. A nation of lost souls, dying far from home.
What is the use of a struggle for justice where I now live?
Down my road, the whooooshhh–whoooooshhh colours of sunlit yachts, the bridge,
The dogs, the park.
Good coffee never more than two steps away.
My bright home, a sanctuary
We let the Aus Czar deny
Those Others wanderers, bearing their grief, hoping for home.
Bougainvillea nursed from a twig.
I plan to plant more natives. I have options.
I can rest at my ease on my most modern couch—
A pure and perfect red—
Or I cuddle sweet Ellie on my Keelim,
I could write in this room or I could write in that,
on my iPad or my office Mac. I have options.
Perhaps some yoga, or some pilates now.
What does it matter where I live or why?
I cannot write;
I cry. A wandering psyche,
A criminal, or a nutter, as they spin him
In the sorry end. He holds them hostage in
the opulence of a quintessential coffee shop. The concrete
City is not native to this land; The natives’ tucker is not Lindt.
Like the golden
Crested ground snake does not show herself, leaving much unknown,
A hostage ‘critical situation’ is not Sydney, Obama or them.
The golden Crested Cockatoos swhoooop—swhoooop play-acting terror
with branches, leaves and long after
the bats come to me at the start of dark while
Tory, a beautiful boy, becomes a hero,
The martyr his murderer had hoped to be.
Katrina a barrister leaves her family bereft , as she throws her life
a blanket over the new life inside her friend.
They are natives I have yearned to plant, maybe like shamans they heal our world.
Politicians we beget dine on our cowardice.
And we take the lives of those we send offshore—
Into phosphate prisons, into poison
And while Manus cradles hate and makes of life a slow, or a sudden, death
While the wanderers, seeking in us only what will set us free—
I am free to wonder about wandering.