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Arika Waulu reflects on their poem 'Paleep' for POEM FOREST 2021.

Preparing to take the long road back to our country, packing clothes for both warm, cold and wet weather, boots, runners and thongs are all necessary items, wondering which birds will greet us first, trying to remember the sweet scent of tea tree and malle bark.

A warmth comes over me as I recognise landmarks like the elephant, lakes and signs with my language on them, I’m checking the sky for our welcome, telling my child the importance to be welcomed by our ancestors, the birds, they watch out with me. As lunch time came around we decided we were too excited to stop to eat and we ate our packed peanut butter sandwiches, almonds and apples too eager to get home.

We yarn about what we will do when we get our land back, we dream about a totem embassy, growing medicines and foods. When we get there we sing out Ngata Alameen Paleep we are here meaning Hello Ancestor Trees we are here!