A good stick, the headmaster says.
She doesn't drink.
She comes to work everyday.
She does her job without complaint.
Occasionally, a smile breaks
across her face
watching the children in the playground—
“Red Rover, Red Rover…”
At midday, she sits—
a shadow in the shade,
resting between the clean towels
and unmopped floors.
The camps, the children,
the fires she's made
curl up like smoke in her eyes.
Beautiful and deep.
She carries the songs,
the secret knowledge of women,
the life of the Land
that no man sees.
And with a sharp eye
catches the crack in the earth
at the base of the wanari tree,
signpost for witchetty grub.
She knows the distances between
every sand-dune, creekbed and rockhole.
In the thickness of her soles
is the recollection of early days,
when she walked Pintupi country
and gave birth in the bush to two sons…
Only one survived.
She saved the retarded one.
She carried him for years on her hip.
She has no regrets.
She remembers everything.
She knows who she is.
No-one can take that away from her.