White Fright

By Nadia Niaz

You say you’re terrified of the big brown tide
coming across the waves
and about to break across Australia,
this pristine white land
where nobody ever lived before the White Man?
Australia was always part of Europe, don’tcha know?
Just, nobody bothered with it because it was so far
away and boats were so slow.
But when you made it here you saw how perfect
it was for your white skin
the way it crackled pink in the sun, you said,
was proof.
And there was nobody else here. No.
Just these strange human shaped shadows
that blended into the land.
Nah, nothing to worry about
But better kill ’em off just in case
they spooked the horses.

And now in your Great White Land
so pristine and pure
so packed to capacity there’s three
whole people per square kilometre
you draw the curtains and bolt the doors
for fear those brown people
might get in
might not see your
ghostly forms
and park their lives over yours
find hospitality among
the other dark folk that were never here
that you never saw.
They know how to live packed
close together
They know how to survive things
you don’t even know exist.
Look at you cowering
in a land you never earned
won, or traded for.
Of course you’re scared.

You know what happens
when boats cross the ocean.