In my country, we have a war memorial in our nation’s capital
and other war monuments throughout the length and breadth of the land.
We celebrate every war this settler nation has been in, except one.
There are no memorials to the frontier wars waged after the invasion,
there is silence about the genocide of the original owners of this land.
We don’t mention the rape of Indigenous women and children.
We gloss over the removal of the stolen generations.
We deny the dispossession, the theft, the usurpation of their land.
We talk, not of ruthless extermination but of peaceful settlement.
We once claimed the land was terra nullius; governed by no one
but now the lie inherent in that assertion has been revealed
there is too much evidence of settled villages and agriculture
and aquaculture and religious culture and high art forms.
The last punitive raids organised by governments are a living memory.
Yet, some still claim we brought civilisation even enlightenment.
We don’t need a flame of remembrance to celebrate fallen diggers;
we need a flame of decency to remember past wrongs and missed opportunities.
Copyright © 2020 John Tomlinson