Still arriving in so-called australia
Ender Baskan


Still arriving in so-called australia

At my cousins wedding
i see Ania in the eyes of the drummers
a band of young lebanese wild and irresistible
they bounce and shimmy and bang their drums
dum tak tak dumm tak
dum tak tak dumm tak
dum tak tak dumm tak
my cousin is half turkish half lebanese
dum tak tak dum tak
her partner half greek half italian
dum tak tak dum tak
just a good ole fashion aussie shindig
led by the luminous wedding singer
a big lebanese cedar tree
asalaam alekum
with a white denim jacket impeccable teeth and gelled curls
hes best in the business we are told
and the drummers serve him
to elevate us
hes a certified shaman in a troubled demokrasi
he takes us up
to take us back
to allow us
to see ahead
and it is good for now
this ritual
and rest assured says the mc
each tradition will be represented in song and he is right
except for the woiwurrung
as the ecstatic sonic east charges the yarra valley vines
each in their own time
a greek zeybekiko in 9/8
an italian tarantella in 6/8
a turkish ciftetelli in 2/4
a lebanese dabke in 4/4
i tremble in awe
as we call on the past
and the singer stands tall and gets taller as the show goes on
tall and taller
tall now like Ania’s father in poland
once the tallest man in the world she said
then made small here
small like us again now as bon jovi is demanded
and the singer vanishes
oooooooh were halfway there
oooohh ohh lebanon a prayer
and just like that we are cut back down
Two nights earlier the henna night
my cousin sits wearing a red velvet gown passed down
and a veil too
as the women in my family hold candles and circle her twice
my grandmother sits beside her and sings
yuksek yuksek tepelere ev kurmasinlar
to make my cousin cry
but instead
she cries
my cousin doesnt speak turkish
my grandmother no speak english
but everything is understood now
henna is applied to my cousins palm and then to everyone elses
my cousin has been given away
Ania asked about my past but did not concern herself with it
to her i came from the land of rumi
that was my treasure
and she was glad to hear i visited his tomb
but have you read him she asked
and when she went to see whirling dervishes in prahran
she was overcome by an ancestral pang deep down the line
and now that Ania is dead
rumi says
don’t grieve. anything you lose comes round in another form
and i wonder
who are your elders?
The late great poet and artist Ania Walwicz was my friend, comrade and teacher. She showed us a way to be, a way to resist and live with resilience. The poem Still arriving in so-called australia was written in her honour. I have also written a tribute in prose which you can read here. I continue to remember her and revere her. 
In love, Ender Baskan
Ender Baskan is a writer and poet concerned with lineages, folk traditions, buried histories and the liberation of peoples from oppressive structures. Using archive, theory and ethnographic research he articulates a poetic practice. He is the author of the novel A Portrait of Alice as Young Man and one of the founding members of both Vre Books press and Study experimental social space. He lives as an uninvited guest on the sovereign lands of the Wurundjeri Woiwurrung people.
©Lieu Journal 2020