I had two dreams during the night.
The other dream played in a mixture of time, the past as well as the present and future, in an unknown place up in North Queensland or the Northern Territory, Australia. A very old aboriginal man is sitting on the ground resting his back against the wall of a bottle shop drinking alcohol (Alcohol generally sells in pubs and bottle shops in Australia). He nods with serious face, then shakes his head in disbelieve and takes another few gulps of spirit. He is deep in thought, Dreamtime, the rainbow serpent, the waterholes then and now. The young man he speared in his legs for starting a fight, the curse he unleashed on two members of another tribe, all so long ago when he once was a tribal elder. He gulped half the bottle at once and swore. He looked at his bare feet where the mud had baked dry, picked up as he crossed the river that hadn’t seen water for many years. Its edges are like hard-edged cracked clay islands, the deepest part of the riverbed contains a little mud that could not even enable the smallest fish to swim. Despite, life could quickly return. Those that could would have buried deep to survive. He had seen it many times. His eyes catch the roos that can barely stand upright. Those who still stood are mere skin and bones. Along the way to his waterhole, he steps over many a carcass. There are remnants of emu, egret, bilby, bandicoot, frilled lizard, the bones of water buffalo and camel. There are so many more that the sun quickly bakes extracting all content of moisture. He finishes the bottle and throws it away. `When did it all change? Why has it come to this?
Then he knew that times began changing after he raised his newborn son sky-high towards the sun. Change came slowly, but irreversible. 18 years later, he buried his son, who took his life when he couldn’t see the sky. Rainbows became rare and then disappeared altogether. `Are they now within me?’ he wondered. The serpents are now black they have no longer red bellies. They snake across the country, but never move, each leading to a waterhole where the spirit is bottled and sold. It helps to forget. He staggers up to stamp his heel hard onto the ground as if to dance to wake the sleeping serpent underground.
©Heinz Ross, Gold Coast, Australia