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352 pages, Hardcover
First published July 2, 2019
queen bee, bee—darribun, ngaraang The ngaraang is in danger now, whole colonies are dying and the queen bee darribun is left, like on a chessboard, without any pawns, with all the worker ngaraang dying off. The bee puts off leaving the hive until later in their lives, when they are adults, because with less flowers it means collecting pollen is hard work for the bee, and many die of exhaustion before they make honey—warrul—and never return to the home. If the pesticides from the farms stress the hive or the bees while they are out foraging in a big sweep, they can die. This triggers a very fast, too-early maturation of the next generation of bees, and they leave the hive too early, before they’re ready, and a whole colony collapses. The Gondiwindi have been like that, scattered children without the thing that nourishes them, without a compass to get back home.
yield, bend the feet, tread, as in walking, also long, tall—baayanha Yield itself is a funny word—yield in English is the reaping, the things that man can take from the land, the thing he’s waited for and gets to claim. A wheat yield. In my language it’s the things you give to, the movement, the space between things. It’s also the action made by Baiame, because sorrow, old age, and pain bend and yield. The bodies of the ones that had passed were buried with every joint bent, even if the bones had to be broken. I think it was a bend in humiliation, just like we bend at our knees and bow our heads. Bend, yield—baayanha.
The smells, tastes, and burdens left August. She ate again too; she wasn’t ngarran anymore. English changed their tongues, the formation of their minds, August thought—she’d drifted in and out of herself all that time. The language was the poem she had looked for, communicating what English failed to say. She’d come across the Pink Map and arrived. Her poppy used to say the words were paramount. That they were like icebergs floating, melting, that there were ocean depths to them that they couldn’t have talked about.