Blackbirding

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Did you come here for pearls,
having heard of the Bay
where the oyster-shell waters
open up wide to share?

Have you brought your investors
to see what’s for sale
in the town by the jetty
at old Roebuck Bay?

Have your brought your own tender
to hold as you dive,
or some eager companions
who’ll plunge for your dime?

Have you captured the knowledge
from ancient salt shores?
Will you watch from the shoreline
or dive down yourself?

Dive deep for the oysters;
save grit for the pearl.
The luggers are humming
as they promise the world.

Now the waters are swaying
and the history’s deep.
You should have let birds fly
and left pearls in the sea.

* Blackbirding was the term used for the capturing Aboriginal divers to work on pearl luggers in Broome.

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