Two Poems

by Brenda Saunders


Feel the spread of stamped ground firm and flat
the hardened clay beneath your grassy parkland 

trace the invisible circles we once called bora  

look for the guiding stones lining a pathway
for young men on the way to initiation                  


Our rings remain in the most unlikely places

Search on the edge of any town, find our circles
re-used as showgrounds, race-tracks, sale-yards

scratch below any suburban cricket pitch, ask
who shaped the hill, rounded the boundary line 


Trams once looped the great bora at Koojee
now crowds picnic on the same scabby lawn

Sunbakers from the beach lie where the clans
held corroboree, find the Bidjigal land too hard

unaware of the years of dancing under their feet


At Meroobora the clan dug a giant bowl
shaped a rim to mirror the Sky Bora in space 

waited for the right time to see the Creator Spirit

the Rainbow Serpent spinning his star dust
lighting celestial patterns in the winter darkness.


Coro-boree: bora ground for ceremony
Koojee: Coogee beach
Meroobora: Maroubra beach
Meroobora, Bidjigal: clans of the Eora Nation (Sydney)
Sky Bora: visible in August, South-East Australia



‘An Englishman’s Estate’
    from ‘The Expeditions of Major Mitchell’, 1836, State Library of NSW.

We watched them come with new ideas for change
for ‘a green and pleasant land’ on Dharug Country 

clearing our wildlife for sport or gain 

They brought hounds for the English hunt, foxes
for them to chase, cleared woodlands, squared

the land into parcels bound with wire

Straightened our snaky trails for the shortest route
to town, herded sheep onto dry patchy runs

planted seeds in a land with no seasons

They smoothed the outcrops, gave new names
to our rivers and hills, new laws to turn the tribe 

in on itself, send families drifting off Country
knowing the white man had come to stay.


Dharug Country: Western plains, Sydney


Brenda Saunders is a Wiradjuri writer from Sydney. She has published three poetry collections, the most recent Inland Sea (Ginninderra Press, 2021). Her poetry has been published widely in anthologies and journals, including Mascara, Australian Poetry, Best Australian Prose Poems (2021), and Best Australian Poems (2022).