The Poppies and the Peas
I’VE never met a floral activist before and I am not sure if that is how Hazel Davies describes herself, but she is certainly one strong woman working for change.
In my last missive I posed a question as to how we might respond to the thousands of unnamed Australians who fought and died for their country and kin on Australian soil? They just happened to be First Nations people whose lives were lost as part of the Frontier Wars.
I’m not sure if Hazel Davies answers all of my questions but she certainly bubbles the conversation along.
I briefly met Hazel as part of a four day commemoration of the Myall Creek Massacre in Northern New South Wales last week. The Myall Creek Memorial is a place of national significance and is building each year as a movement promoting truth telling and healing across our land.
At the symposium Professor Lyndall Ryan presented her project which is an online mapping of massacre and frontier conflict sites across Australia. It is rigorous and confronting. If you are online savvy look it up. It will probably have a massacre site near a place of significance for you.
Professor Ryan estimates there will be over 500 sites recorded by the time the project is complete.
Historian Henry Reynolds estimates more than 65000 lives were lost on the Queensland frontier alone, more than any war fought overseas.
So why the florist? This April, Hazel Davies was intimately involved in what most Australians would describe as our annual sacred moment.
She lovingly created and presented the wreaths for Prime Minister Turnbull and Governor General Cosgrove to lay at the Australian War Memorial on ANZAC day.
She then walked to the Aboriginal Tent Embassy where she presented a uniquely Australian wreath made from Australian flowers to be laid at the same memorial to remember those who lost their lives as part of the frontier wars.
Hazel has built a relationship with the First Peoples from Central Australia and discovered that the Sturt Desert Pea is a symbol of love and loss, of blood spilt on the soil.
It, like the poppy, is a flower of remembrance. Hazel describes the desert pea as Australia’s own Flanders
Hazel Davies Desert Pea Project aims to bring about awareness of our frontier wars and bring about healing through honouring all of our dead who gave their lives to protect their country. Her poem, The Poppies and the Peas is well worth taking to the heart, because that’s exactly where it comes from.
The Poppies and the Peas
In Flanders fields the poppies blow Their silky memories shape and soak our nation’s grieving walls
Red song lines resurrect the lost to love
And love is given up to hope We clutch the poppy to our breast And to the creviced walls we press in …. And press on. Talisman of a transported nation Whose portal steps are found in blood
We cover, cover with the red The bloody truth of our dead. Now flowing in the country’s heart The pea flower tells
Of dead who lie and cry goes up First nation’s blood soaks and grieves our soil
Fiery memory lost to shame. Bravely now with trembling hands We must pluck the poppy with the pea
Whose battle song line
Must needs be resurrected from lost to love
Uncover, uncover with the red The bloody truth of our dead In Australian Fields. Hazel Davies 2015