Her early wounds—
from a mother passed out in the toilet,
a syringe, a spoon:
a heroin addict's sine qua non—
are disguised by her wit,
restless irreverent intelligence,
like the unsettling boldness
of a woman in her youth.
Even the honesty of her words
as they echo in my head
ruffle the smoothness
(should I say whiteness?)
of my own life:
I'm not half-caste. I'm not part this
or part that. I'm Aboriginal.
You can't sit on the fence
with something like that—
you either are, or you are not.
Buttressed by her grandmother's stories—
of baby whales swimming in circles,
building up rocks
to give birth to La Perouse,
her homeland by the sea;
a fighter for her people,
transforming himself into a bird
to escape the British—
she stumbles upon art
as a way of stalking the truth,
waging war against drugs,
teaching children to be proud of who they are:
black, white, or brindle.
P-J is an artist of mixed Aboriginal heritage who lives in Sydney, Australia.