Literature Maryam Gowralli Poetry

Dusk on the Hati Marege

Mother, then setting off—
I see the world in which you inhabited
sand breaching between land and seafoam
you left clues, spinning sagas in my all too Canadian body
of a place so delicious in warmth, the providence of
natural resources prone to warships and
the occasional genocide.

Mother, on the deck I feel the burning
of red chili’s in my eyes, a raging tropical sun
going starboard. I’d dip my prodigal toes into
its swell if I could, a family reunion with village medicine,
though your body remains in the Western hemisphere.

Mother, when I smell the brine, I think
of all the isles entangled: suspected Papuan
dissidents, ousted for treason, when we
are the aggressors; devastation to
Dayak traditional ways-of-knowing for the
sake of rubber; and that little Bajau boy I saw
in the National Geographic once,
diving into the deepworld for
sea urchins, the azan
seeping overhead.

These are the inseparable syntheses,
between humans, billboards
and countless demarcations
that can’t be ignored.

Mother, I’d anchor myself in
blood and home, the dock in which
I lament and heal from untold narratives
like a stranger setting foot
on the Hati Marege.

Poet’s Note: The Hati Marege was a traditional Padewakang ship commissioned by Spillet, for the Australian Bicentenary of 1988 in order to re-enact the historical and communal bonds between Indonesian Makkasan’s and Aboriginial Yolungu communities before the advent of the British. Hati Marege in Indonesian means “The Heart of Northern Australia.”


Maryam Gowralli lives on Treaty 7 Territory and draws inspiration from her Trinidadian-Indian and Indonesian heritage. She is the Creative Nonfiction Editor for filling Station and is pursuing an MA in English Literature at the University of Calgary. Find her works at PRISM international, Freefall, The Selkie, The Canadian League of Poets, The Caribbean Writer, and other journals.