When You Need to Start Again

By Natalie D-Napoleon
Eden Hoang/Creative Commons

When you need to start again cut your hair,

dye it red, shave it off, paint it black—

that old hair is no good for you now.

To grow fresh buds of strength,

go out into the field —leave the weeds—

and drink in all the wildflowers within view;

the yellow conostylis, 

a pincushion of softness;

the green and red kangaroo paws 

bowed in reverence; 

the pink-lipped Geraldton wax 

never melting in the sun;

a few candles of banksia flowers

that glow, yet never burn.

Then return with your hands 

brimming, skin full of pollen, the Westerly

fuming your nose like cheap perfume—

not acrid—dizzy, earthy; full with the promise 

of flowers about to puff open.

Then remember he has no power over you now—

the power that was not his to take but yours to give—

whispering into your pillow at night, 

“If you leave me, I won’t be able to go on”

that you would ruin him;

that he might die without you; 

that you could never sing again without him;

then the next day, honey in hand, muzzling 

you, once more, with his rope of words, 

“Come on! Sing for me, honey-bee.”

When you need to start again cut your hair, 

dye it red, shave it off, paint it black—

that old hair is no good for you now.

Throw forth your old self, like a worker bee 

at the feet of the Queen, wind shaking weeds,

and offer up the pollen collected grain by grain to her—

now dripping from your hands as honey. 

Then feed it to the Queen, tenderly, slowly, 

as you sing her a new song, 

and watch your hair grow back, 

longer and stronger than ever.


Brolgas art work by Phoebe McIlwraith

NGALI GARIMA MALLA JUGUN (We Look After This Country) – A call for submissions

Key Dates: Submissions open March 7 Submissions close April 6 NGALI GARIMA MALLA JUGUN  (we look after this Country) Through a new editorial partnership, Right Now and Groundswell are platforming stories that explore the intersection of climate change and human rights, pertaining to First Nations justice. ‘NGALI GARIMA MALLA JUGUN’ is a series of pieces […]