apere amp— (utation) – Michael Giacometti

If a tree falls in the forest …
an old caterpillar man dies.

Before I died I woke up
screaming. I was dreaming,

dreaming of arrenge
my father’s father.

Arrenge apereke antyeme,
He climbing up his totem,

apere, river red gum.
He was reaching out,

reaching out too far and
fell soundlessly, without

warning, like a severed
limb on a windless day.

His arm was all broke
—the flesh torn, bone

showing bent completely
the other way. I woke up.

Screaming. Fuck! Blood
on the sheets. My own.

My own arm beside
me—sawn right off.

My legs too! Before
my eyes they are cut

into smaller pieces
and stacked neatly

atop the pile of
bloodied limbs

in a trailer to be delivered
as firewood to my family.

As my chest is split
open, my guts pulled

out for crows to gorge,
I think of my ancestors,

cocoon a seed down
into the root stock,

deep,
to sprout after summer rain.

 

arrenge (Arrernte) – father’s father, paternal grandfather
antyeme (Arrernte) – climb up
apere-ke (Arrernte) – the suffix ‘ke’ indicates the object of the verb, in this case the tree (apere) is being climbed (antyeme)