The Forest (We Never Will Forget)

(2 June 2011)#

Robert and I lived in a tent in the state forest in East Gippsland from 2003 to 2010. The forest was badly degraded by at least 50 years of intensive logging, but was nonetheless a beautiful, secluded place that taught us much about living with beings other than humans. The traditional owners of the land are the Ganai people, though no indigenous community lives in the area now – Butchers Ridge, the site of a massacre of 30-35 Ganai people in 1841, was about a kilometre from where we camped. Living simply, we took no photos of the forest, and this song is our memory of the place which will always be our truest home.

*
Em      C       D  Em            G       D       Am
When I came to you a voice spoke in my mind
        D              Em
'This place is for you'
    Em       C      D Em              G           D        Am
A clearing in the forest; We had nowhere else to go
          D                  Em
So we made you our home.
*
      C                       D                          Am                  Em
The dogwood and the mountain gum, the stringybark and wattle
      C                               Dmaj9
The messmate and the leaves of lemon scent
C                 D                  Am                  Em
Coolibah and Eightfingers, Spiral Bark and Willow
      C                              Dmaj9                                                         Em
We named you as people we knew; You let us rest against your feet.
*
Down in the gully there is a rainforest stream
Of rich and earthy beauty
Green moss and treeferns abound, and all the pools that we found
Fading away between the rains.
*
The lyrebird's song intense and clear; How many copied bird calls can we hear?
Black cockatoos cut out squares of sapling bark
Rosellas, bower birds, gang gangs; the carol of the currawongs
Piping tree creepers, a flock of firetail finches flutters past.
*
In the summer the everpresent danger
Of fire is in our minds
Smell the burning eucalypts from the distant firefront
Before the cool change arrives.
*
The bullants set their warning stance; the orange-headed insect
Efficiently she packs away her wings then scurries on her way
The wasp that kills the huntsman spiders; the blue and black cicadas
With their tiny jewelled patterns make a mockery of art.
*
Living under canvas; A challenge keeping out the rain
Filling our water store again
Sensing changes in the air; You know you are the world
When the atmosphere surrounds you.
*
Branches fall, a storm passes through, clearing to an autumn moon
The possums fight and the owl says 'who? who?'
And in the daylight lizards play, hunting March flies stealthily
While a sinuous goanna flicks his tongue to find a meal.
*
In the autumn, winter or spring, a light dusting of snow
Creates a forest wonderland
In this forest we spent all our time; We named so many places
Rich with memory and meaning.
*
Tall Trees and Treefern Grove, Mountain View and Native Garden
Indiana, Frog Bridge, Throne, Meandering pools
Wilderness and Woodland, and Kijaran Grove
Blue Sky Ridge, you marked the edge of our own special domain.
*
The Ganai people who lived here before - how could you know what was in store?
Butchers Ridge tells the tale
To live here knowing everything; We could only catch a glimpse
But we knew the depth of feeling.
*
The wallaby cleans her delicate paws and shares her joeys with us
A calm and placid mother, she shows us how
Father emu keeps his chicks from harm, til they are grown almost as tall as him
The river bend and all our friends, we miss you so much now.
*
When I came to you a voice spoke in my mind
'This place is for you'
A clearing in the forest; And though our time with you has ended
We never will forget
            C            D?               Em
You will always, always be our home
You will always, always be our home
la, la etc.

3 Responses to The Forest (We Never Will Forget)

  1. LORRAINE KENNEDY says:

    Knowing how much your forest home meant to you and Robert this is a very moving tribute!

  2. abubenadhem says:

    Another haunting ballad! This reminds me of the Navi homeland in James Cameron’s 2009 film, “Avatar.” Glad to know you lived there. I’m sure you were better for it, and it was better for you.

  3. Love your songs Anita. Look forward to meeting you and Robert soon.

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