Beyond the High Walls

Artwork by Tessa McOnie.

Artwork by Tessa McOnie.

Three things cannot be long hidden: 
The sun, the moon and the truth
— Buddha

When I saw the landscape in your face
I saw you and I wondered
of the country printed on this parchment skin
A place I didn’t recognise
I was not so effortless in this third space

Your valleys and contours, footprints
mirrored from the land now beneath my feet
Beneath the feet of trees deep and full
splintered on the horizon, resting beneath the moon
so far beyond the high walls, the us          

Your never-ending story lies here,
You are cool waters shaded, red cliff hanging
deep earth and coals burnt out
eyes of long nights by the fire
dignity and disappointment

And me, this canvas skin not so blank
Seen in a mirror, too long in a drawer face-down
Feint tracks of a see-through story
Tin rooftops, sheets billow on a line
Washed-out, stalwart beneath the distant sun

And so, more us and high walls
Wisdom buried beneath
intentions and not knowing
A bleaching foreign even to the foreign
life and lives painted over, abandoned mission

Might have stepped a little lighter
Might have listened a little deeper
had I known they would be mapped across my face
These high walls, characters I long to forget
This scarring unspoken, silent story that hangs untold


Anna Balston is a yogi, fledgling poet and an ICEA Program Manager. With a background in education and behavioural science, Anna seeks to drive reconciliation and respect in our community by exploring the intersections of diverse ways of being, doing and knowing.