Span 37

Journal of the South Pacific Assoc for Cwlth Lit and Language Studies
Number 37, 1993
Yorga Wangi:
Postcolonialism and Feminism

Edited by Anne Brewster, Marion Campbell, Ann McGuire, Kathryn Trees

Bea Ballangarry

Whole Woman

Hand, first one, then another one, floating in space. Whose hand? Two legs looking for a body with great difficulty. But what about the head, whatever did this head think of, leaving her body, or rather, her neck? Her head is searching for eyes, ears, nose, and mouth. Somewhere deep inside of her head she knows where to look for these. Way deep inside. Inside where? There, in the body, of course.

My mouth is yelling to me, "Here we are hanging in this tree, looking and listening and waiting for you to come out and get us." OK, so now I have a body, two legs, two hands, and head with eyes, ears, nose, and mouth, but where do I stick my hands? On the side of my face, out of my stomach or where?

"You need me."

Who? Oh, arms. "So... Where do I join you?"

"Try here on my wrists. It looks the right size."

Great, so now let's join body there. That also looks the right size.

"Neck, you came just in time. It's you that joins head to body." Great, but how do I stand up?

Uh huh. Feet.

"Where are you?"

Big search for feet began.

Search went on for years and years.

Then, one day feet walked past in search of self. Oh what a relief.

"I've been looking everywhere for you. Well, join on, because I want to stand up."

I am standing; I am standing on my own two feet. But now, what now?

More. There is more. I know.

Look at me: whole woman, see.


I am Here in a Centre

This is the centre of the forest. Trees, trees, and more trees tall. Lots of ferns everywhere. So many different shades of green, and look at all the different varieties of ferns. Some of them are growing up the tree trunk as well as surrounding the base of the trees, covering the ground in their array of beauty. It's damp and cold here because there is no sunlight. There are parts of this forest that have no sunlight. How could it when ferns and vines join tree to tree? I look up and sense the tallness of some trees, reaching right up to nowhere. Lots of bird's nest plants, elkhorns hanging off the tall trees. I like this earthy mossy clear water smell. If I stand still, the sound of running water over pebbles, following a thin trail through the forest, is music. I must keep moving.

After the forest I see flat land. It's quiet. I look around and see hills. Some hills are high. But look over there: aren't they funny little hills? Thin little hills. I picture something rolling down the hill in a never-ending roll. I must walk carefully. Wherever I walk on this land, I must walk with respect. I am respecting the ancestors who came before me.

Smelling the earth and seeing the changes is important. I can smell the changes of the seasons. In my culture I am accustomed to many, many seasons. I can smell them. I can smell the earth when it is dry season. Like I can when it is wet, or a very wet season. And what about the wattle season, the wildflower season, the clear season, the waarmbu season. The earth tells me all the time of all the different seasons. There are lots of different smells, so there are lots of seasons. Much more than four. The season at the moment is the season of the summer bird calling the summer to us.

The grass is tall; the shrubs are messy and bushy. I can hear an animal. It's amazing when an animal is near. The messy shrubs and brush grass are only about seeing, until I hear an animal. Then the bush is quiet, listening to an animal and its noises. I think it's a marsupial. Yes, there it is. It's a bandicoot. It's moving around looking for something to eat, making a squeaky, dull little sound. I think the bandicoot is hungry.

The landscape changes. The trees are thinning; the grass is thick and there are more small shrubs. There are no trees now on these hills, just grass and small shrubs. I must keep moving forward in harmony with my surroundings.

Then, slowly, I see the ocean, so the smell changes.

Murdoch University


New: 13 December, 1996 | Now: 22 April, 2015