On Country

100_1817An ancient ocean roars under the red dirt. Hush. Be still for just a moment. Hear its thundering waves crashing on unseen shores.

This vast ocean was there in the beginnings, as it will be in days not yet begun. Alongside their gentler brethren, massive creatures once tumbled in the ocean’s depths; jaws chasing tails. This harsh water-ballet continued until the meek inherited an evaporating body of water. With budding legs they crawled onto land and spawned. With the passing of time, their descendants and descendants’ descendants’ procreated. Each generation becoming less and less like their forebearers, as they roamed unhurriedly, populating a new-born world.

Creatures of all sizes and shapes have left their marks on terra.  Pawmarks in an empty creek bed, claw marks on fossilised trees, impressions of a thumping tail across a gibber plain. Alongside a slithering trail in red dirt, footprints appeared – the biped had arrived.

The originals co-existed alongside mega-beasts, taking only what was needed. Until time circled once again, and the era of colossal rulers was no more. By the time their bones mingled with dust, other creatures already roamed the earth. Beasts of many sizes have lived alongside us, playing witness to both extraordinary and commonplace moments throughout time. Together we have watched mountains birthed, oceans recede, and whole species return to the earth from whence they had sprung. Compared to all that has come before, these ripples sweeping over Country now, heralding the arrival of a new beast, they are nothing. The tide will once again turn, as dictated by eternity’s ebbs and flows.

The ancient ocean isn’t trapped underground, confined to the interior basin. This briny mother has sent her progeny far and wide, to travel further than you or I could ever imagine.  Droplets of this ocean can be found in sun-warmed rock pools. They are carried along by snaking rivers, or nestle in shallow puddles in lush fields. Dewdrops ride on the wings of birds, eager to try exotic flavours in faraway lands. The earth’s tears keep watch from omnipotent positions in the mists. Thirsty wisps of clouds travel far and wide, growing fatter and fatter, until they can hold no more. Spilling their loads over land and sea, this generative liquid is quickly absorbed. The circle is complete.

The ocean travels far, but never once forgets from whence it came. People soak up this ocean too, catching its life force as it falls from the skies; unaware that the water that caresses their upturned faces was once home and sustenance to long-forgotten creatures. When all else has departed, water survives in its many guises. Cry not for those that are gone, for traces of ancients waters live on within us; connecting us to all that is, was and will be. We are all one, kin to that ancient ocean.

“Grandfather, who are they?”
The old man turned, brow buckled from eons of sun, wind and rain. He blinked, focusing on the girl who stood by his side.
Shifting from one leg to the other, the girl pointed towards the raising sun, “Over there. Can you see them? What do you think they want?”
“Country,” replied the man, as he looked out on the plain of red dirt. “It’s always land they seek.”
Nodding, the girl looked up at the old man, “Under the name of which god do they now come to claim what is not theirs?”
“These ones worship something called ‘the economy.’ They appease it by making big holes, to take out the shiny rocks that have slept within the earth since the beginning. And, to make matters worse, they create a mess in the process. Such destruction that they almost sully the eternal waters.”
“It’s not theirs. Neither the land or waters.”
The old man shook his head gently, “No. And it’s not ours either.”
“Why do they not care for Country? Why do they seek to own what cannot be owned?”
“They still don’t understand.”
“Are they simple or something?”
Sighing, the old man turned away and walked towards a cliff-face. He put his hand on a rock-tapestry of browns, reds and blacks, “Not all of them. Some have listened, shown that they are willing to learn.”

“Grandfather,” cried the girl. “Why are you leaving? Shouldn’t we do something?”
“There are enough warriors here to deal with this. Or, should I say, there’s a deadly mob keeping an eye out for Country.”
The girl chuckled, “Don’t”
“Don’t what?”
“Try to sound young. It won’t work, you’re too old.”
“I’m not old! I’m only a few hundred of thousands of what these goonyas call ‘years’. Come, lets rest until the next time we need to visit Country.”

The girl watched her Grandfather walk forwards, through the rock. Turning back towards the plain, she noticed something waving in the early dawn light. Shielding her eyes with a raised hand, she looked to the east. A large black, yellow and red cloth undulated in the wind. Underneath this banner stood hundreds and hundreds of people. People of all ages.

“Grandfather is right,” she said under her breath. “The People will weather this current storm. After all, they’ve been here a very long time.”
She walked towards the edge of the rock platform they had been standing on, and jumped. Disappearing, with barely a ripple, into a small rock pool that lay on the red earth.

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