Thursday, July 26, 2007

A disco in the bush

[Dateline: Parnngurr,

9.38pm, 22/07/07]

By Adam Gibson ©

There's a big mob
gathered in from
Punmu and Jigalong,
east from Warakurna,
over from Kunawarratji and
up from Parnpajinya,
here for the funeral,
having arrived in battered cars
that you can't believe
survived that road,
in dust-sprayed Toyotas
that now sit like emperors
in the hot late-July sun.

The red dirt is rusted,
no shade beneath the trees with
all the lower branches
ripped off for firewood and
dogs fight amongst each other
as the service is conducted
on the red flat earth
in the centre of things.

Then night falls
and the kids emerge,
creeping out
to the sound of music
pumping from DJ decks
in the community hall,
the new supply shop operator
spinning the tracks
while torches are flashed
in the dusty darkness and
dozens of faces line the walls.

The brave ones occasionally
dart out to
show their best moves
- American hip-hop,
busts of rap and breakdance -
and then dart back again
when the attention
turns to them too much.

The sound is of shouting and
the hum above the music of
massed laughter,
squeals of smiles and
the slap of bare feet
hitting bare floor
in a joyful syncopation
that is rarely reported on the
evening news of the world
or in the telegraphs which herald
the important things you need to know.

Then, on the dot of 9pm,
the DJ plays his final song
and wraps it up with little fanfare,
the kids,
without a single grumble,
file out in a rush,
disappearing in a dancing mob
towards their houses and camps
by the fires of 44 gallon drums
beneath a sky in which
the Milky Way shines
with bright buzzing light.

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