Episode 1 EV4ET: Ellen van Neerven and Eunice Andrada
Welcome to Extraordinary Voices for Extraordinary Times, a monthly podcast brought to you by UQP in collaboration with the Copyright Agency’s Cultural Fund.
For our first episode, Ellen van Neerven is joined by Eunice Andrada, a Filipina poet and educator. Eunice's debut poetry collection, Flood Damages, won the Anne Elder Award (2018) and was a finalist for the Victorian Premier’s Literary Award for Poetry (2019) and the Dame Mary Gilmore Award (2019). She has performed her poetry in diverse international stages, including the UN Climate Change Conference in Paris and Sydney Opera House. In 2020, her poetry will be exhibited in the Museum of Sydney to accompany the photography exhibition A Thousand Words.
Nature Heals Itself
elephants guzzle a stash of corn wine and snore on a field
in Yunnan, while this time elsewhere, la niña begins, and in Australia,
my mother’s lungs fill with rain, as Ministers debate over how to divide a river,
I bring her meals and wash my hands for 20 seconds afterwards, parliament debates
whether or not they should mine under our supply of drinking water, I sanitise
the sink with Dettol wipes, register their deliberations, her face so young
behind an N95 mask, but no one questions the future of our bodies,
we die so heroically, us Filipino women, our nation’s infinite
natural resource, the doctor comments she doesn’t need a large dosage
for my mother’s ‘tiny frame’, at 8pm, everyone stands on their balconies
to clap for healthcare workers, their applause smattering the night with explosions,
reminding the pigeons who’s home, there is a leak in my mother’s chest,
the room is flooding, but don’t worry, nature heals itself,
a viral meme declares, humans are the real virus,
my mother is a test site, researchers say they don’t yet know
the long-term effects of January’s smoke, PM 2.5 lingering
in the bloodstream, leading to heart disease, diabetes, dementia,
on her nightstand, I put her inhalers in plastic tupperware, dependable,
our own futures up for debate, but the elephant story was fake,
the dolphins in Venice, too, their slick-shiny heads photoshopped
under Mediterranean light, I forget about the microplastic
in the tap water, toast to the experiment,
take in all the air needed to float
Ellen van Neerven
In 2023 we will not
keep our reality to ourselves
there will be Blak people on television
narrating joy instead of survival and I will rub my eyes
until the vision does not leave me blind.
In 2023 Aotearoa and Australia host the party of all parties
the whole world watching
a 32-team competition will open doors, our neighbours
Papua New Guinea will qualify for the first time
Iran’s national team will honour Sahar Khodayari in a blue strip.
In 2023 no fires will burn so wildly out of control
sacred business in the hands of First Nations practitioners.
In 2023 I will go to the supermarket
fill a shopping cart of food from Blak businesses
knowing my Unaipons sustain Country
2023 brings me closer
to the question Cave asked
Is there racism in heaven?
I’m not sure yet
but I know I will rest when I’m dead
we will keep our face masks on hand
we will be taking all precautions not to
piss off our planet again
the virus is around, like all living things
but if we are talking about something
that deliberately and callously kills
yes, police and state violence will be suppressed
and what kills us (historically) will
make us stronger (figuratively).
In 2023 we will disbelieve a time
when women went to jail for unpaid fines
children were handcuffed
refugees were imprisoned indefinitely
oh, it would seem so long ago.
In 2023 our politicians will reflect what this country has always been
a place of deep spirituality and respect for every little thing
the state election will be contested by two First Nations candidates.
In 2023 I will turn 33
recognise my face is more like an eagle’s
older, and stronger
my eyes have never been so fixed.
In 2023 outside Meanjin Stadium
kids are backflipping like Sammy, forwardfacing the truth
Megan Rapinoe’s allyship will no longer take centre stage
our Matildas have four First Nations players in the starting eleven
a dramatic penalty shootout will see Australia
make the final through a Lydia save and a Kyah conversion
the final will be played to eighty thousand fans
they will not allow tickets to bigots
crowds will descend on Cathy Freeman Park.
I will call my mother and say
even if we don’t win the final tonight.
We have won.