Bran Nue Dae
After Lionel Fogarty’s And It Rained This Night
For Sermsah Bin Saad
With reference to protests in 2015 against
the forced closure of Aboriginal communities
and Black Lives Matter protests
held on Wurundjeri country in 2020,
protests which sought to draw attention
to deaths in custody.
At the time of writing,
these deaths number 441.
Lord Mayor Robert Doyle criticised the protesters, saying they were being ‘self-indulgent’.
‘What a great way to gain sympathy to your cause: by disadvantaging and inconveniencing hundreds of thousands of people just trying to get home at the end of the week,’ Cr Doyle said.
—Reported in the Herald Sun, April 10, 2015, in reference to CBD demonstrations against the forced closure of Aboriginal communities.
Finish watching Bran Nue Dae
(only never completely).
Some mob have passed on
since the film was made.
Suri tells me as much, says
some of the mob
find it hard to watch now.
(Long after I’ve rung to tell him
we saw you there
in the film.)
And you’re still here, so
guess you kept on dancing
with uncles, aunties, cousins
telescoped through filmtime.
Struggling and alive in the struggle
of every nothing days.
Counted now like it’s self-indulgent
to have lived at all
for so long, so long, so
Out of hundreds of
thousands of days
why didn’t they choose
It’s as good a day as any,
beautiful in its way and bran nue ay.
Because the community was closed down
and the bottle shop stayed open that weekend.
Protest is always legitimate but
surely not so when on
this many people
Can’t see why, five years later
they have to come,
endanger our health
Over the megaphone
hear someone say 434.
The newspaper (still keeping score)
writes another case, months later.
A number that’s
already expired already
out of date.
Who’s endangering who?
For one chance
Through the fire see how
we lived and
they might have lived for it, too.
Declan Fry is an essayist, poet, and proud descendant of the Yorta Yorta. Born on Wongatha country in Kalgoorlie, in 2021 he was shortlisted for the Judith Wright Poetry Prize and awarded a Peter Blazey Fellowship. He currently lives with his partner and their cat Turnip and has appeared in Meanjin, Kill Your Darlings, The Guardian, Griffith Review, and elsewhere.