On undoing

community + belonging + tea + cake

Featured in

  • Published 20230502
  • ISBN: 978-1-922212-83-2
  • Extent: 264pp
  • Paperback (234 x 153mm), eBook

WE SCAMPER INTO a warm room full of returned relics and donated artwork. Outside, the temperature hovers around 12 degrees – freezing for a Meanjin girl. The sky is low and grey, a fog shrouds the silhouetted gums. Sheets of rain come and go. Local Elder David King welcomes us into the space, welcomes us warmly to Gundungurra Country. We sit together and he shares stories of his mother and his aunties and uncles. His words are gentle. He tells truth about dispossession and homecomings. He talks about forming a strategy – after the government returned the gully to the rightful custodians in the early 2000s. Of sitting with family to formulate answers to bureaucratic questions. His description of the aunties’ refusal to corral these answers into settler language stirs me. Over a period of years, they formulated four key performance headings: community + belonging + cups of tea + cake. 

A thick rising tide sweeps up from deep in my guts, tightens my chest, swamping the base of my throat, threatening to spill out in groans and tears. I desperately push it down so that I don’t steal any of David’s story-­space. In these words I feel found. In this sensation of found-­ness, I realise just how lost I am. This is a language I belong in. This is a deep truth that meets a bone-­deep lack. Here, on Gundungurra Country, I remember how it feels to belong. Not in my own home Country but in the welcome and inclusion by another.

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About the author

Sharlene Allsopp

Sharlene Allsopp was born and raised on unceded Bundjalung Country. She tutors writing and literature at UQ’s ATSIS Unit and was a 2020/21 fellow...

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