~ Barkindji interpretations provided by Kevin Knight and Wayne Knight
He strode the bank of the Darling, a stranger.
And claimed it his. (Spit)
The stranger on the bank …
—that white Jesus, didn’t even know her name. (Spit).
Grandfathers’ seeing, black eyes wouldna told him—
‘Barka. Thas her name. Barka—that one, there. Nhantarna. Nhantarna. Barka. Barka.’
But the stranger didn’t see the smoke of fires Barkindji.
Didn’t smell gun powder that lingers on West wind, icy and old,
the memory of colour.
Instead, he strode the mountains, rum blind—and parked Lawson.
Wrote white name upon Wiradjuri, in that town—where streets are filled white.
There’s ice wind of memory and river voices unheard.
But we won’t dance with the fiddle, rummed-up, nor dance with the Banjo.
Instead, cool fires and smoke, renew our Mother,
and replace the smell of blood and gunpowder
with small feet dancing Wiradjuri dreams in colour.
Note: Henry Lawson, the poet, wrote a famous poem on the banks of the Darling River, ‘A Stranger on the Darling’. I’m a Barkindji person, the Darling is no stranger to me … and I am no stranger to her.
The Darling River is known to the Barkindji people as ‘Barka’—that is her name.She was made by the beautiful Rainbow Serpent.This poem is announcing that waterway with the Barkindji name of Barka.
Barkindji people love Barka, and we are not strangers to her.