Where We Are
Read Duncan McLean's introduction to Where We Are.
When I first left my home, the gnawing ache for all I’d left behind – family, friends, my land, my whole life – made me numb and thrawn. Weeping and sobbing – bubblin an greetin, as you would call it in Scotland – would have been too wet and hand-wringy. What I felt was bone-dry and primal; I wanted to drop to my knees, throw my head back and howl. I pined like an animal, without tears.
Home is different for each of us, made from the sounds words make in our mouths and the thoughts they form in our brains. Made from landscapes, cityscapes, seascapes, the people who gather with us round our fires, the smell the smoke leaves on our skins. Removed from our homes, we must remake not only that place of comfort, but ourselves.
At a time when more than 82 million people worldwide have been violently displaced, it feels wrong to complain about my own privileged emigration to Australia. I didn’t need to come, and it was embarrassingly easy. Ticket, visa, then citizenship: all a formality. The greater your need to be here, the harder it is to be accepted.
Nonetheless, coming here was the biggest upheaval of my life, and many of these poems are about the remaking of self and the building of a new home around it.
I share only a minute part of the grief that many recent Australians and asylum-seeking detainees are living with, and even less of the grief that Australia’s colonised First Nations must feel. Yet, I understand the immensity of what has been lost and my education is ongoing. To all who have lost their homes: lang may yir lums reek (may your fires always burn).