These Ancient Lands Cry Out

On 12 November 2019, Brooke Prentis, Aboriginal Christian Leader was flying from Brisbane to Sydney and saw the extent of Bushfires across the East Coast and wrote this poem in response.

These Ancient Lands Cry Out

In this metal bird in the sky,
Above the land I often fly.
I think how I’ve taught many
That one must listen with their whole body.
So, today, as many think what it means to “watch and act”,
I am also on high alert as I follow my flight path’s track.
The aircraft always has that hum that drones.
That background song, the engine, crones.
But today I hear something else extra loud
Louder than a hundred thousand strong crowd.

Australia, these lands are our household.
These ancient lands, millennia years old.
Australia, today I can see our house is burning,
My stomach is absolutely churning.
As politicians fight a short term game,
“We will deal with this when there are no more flames”.
But as I see our precious and only planet burn
I wondered, “What if the flames now, forever, burn?”

I’ve walked these lands with bare feet;
Do you realise the bitumen holds the heat?
I’ve placed my palm on bark of many a tree,
I’ve felt the interconnection between you and me,
And also with the tree, the land, and of course, the sea.
So, today, from here, way up high,
I can hear the land and trees…let out a cry…

My eyes nearly can’t comprehend
My heart beats out of rhythm worried for my friends
“Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot,
Nothing is going to get better. It’s not.”

I’ve seen the internet bushfire maps
But today the reality makes my mind do laps.
The captain’s voice comes across clearly.
I’m struck by how he says so calmly,
“It’s thirty three degrees,
With strong north easterly breeze.”

Our thoughts and prayers are needed
But action is what is required.
We cannot keep living in denial
The lands and waters need us all, at this time of trial.

From Meanjin to Warrang,
From Gubbi Gubbi to Gadigal,
From Brisbane to Sydney,
From Queensland to New South Wales,
Friends, we are burning and I SEE the urgency,
Friends, this is…a climate emergency!