At the revolving-door feet of blue glass giants, the currents do not smile and do not look up. Distracted by only what lays before them, they are the fish that stand, the reeds that run and do not see eye to eye; their faces are white, downward cast. I myself do not flow in these tides of artificiality, wary of ill-fated attempts made past, and instead assume the role of observer. Skyward I look to the gleaming steel pillars, their polished faces burning in the sun as they suspend the clouds with their indifference. Gods of only a young city, they are nonetheless possessed of a disdain centuries old – they have no love in their metal skeletons.
In the city is bred anonymity. One does not need stand out, for we are all fish in the same current, and individuality is an unwise luxury. Coming my way I see a species of the city: the lone cod. Eyes cold, heavy, grey; slow of motion, uncaring; a slippery beast wrapped in the oblivion of an iPhone universe. He is not worth catching: he is too fat to haul up, and he will taste terrible – the bitterness of unzested life.
And so he judders past.
These sallow diamondwhite faces are hard with the weight of stagnation, dragging behind their fins concrete briefcases as they are choked by ties made of plastic bags. The current is swift but neither clean nor clear, dirtied by colonialism, yet the diamondwhite is dazzling. A milky, mechanical colour pulsating beneath a film of sweat, it is the texture of bleakness – like detuned sunlight punched through cloudbanks.
Yet ambling against the tide – shoulders lax and face upward turned to the flicker and dazzle of yellow silk slammed unto the glass titans – is the black fish. He does shine as do the diamondwhites in their gilled coats of two-piece polyester, but his is a glow of far more natural quality. His does not burn or scald, does not blind or unsettle, but is the casual warmth of a man comfortable in his black skin.
The Aboriginal glow is quiet, at odds with the dumb rush of the current.
To a stronger current does he commit, coursing through forty millennia of a sunburned land, of swollen Boabs grander and more glorious than any tower or white man’s monument. The black fish glide in the serene silence of inheritance, assured of their ownership of this red-dust continent. We are the owners of this land, confirmed not in signature but in Spirit. That is our bond and it cannot be typed, printed or projected.
We have been snared in nets, cast out of our waters and had our tides poisoned with the arrogance of diamondwhites, but we have prevailed. Silently and confidently we watch the encroaching modernity of our invaders, but do not fear societal castration.
In their hyperactive infancy, the diamondwhites have not yet learned to walk and instead amble and waddle, impatient to leap into an unknown they hope to mould into a certainty. But it is the black fish that stand on the broadest and strongest feet, dry, cracked – – and decorated in the dust of our inheritance.