Picnic at Hanging Rock

by Jennie Howitt

February 14th, 1900

Flowers pressed and laced with postcards
Roses are thrown down stepping stones

A girl leans off the balcony
Silhouette golden, face unshown

O take us to the hanging rock,
Oasis to the dead grass wastelands
The haystacks and the dust clouds.

If the Hanging Rock won’t come to you
Then you must go to the Hanging Rock.
This Rock which waited a million years
                                                            just for us

Let us be at the mercy of
Venomous snakes and poisonous ants,
Let us eat luncheon
Whilst we lie among the daisies,

Botticelli angels with white clouded robes
Cross the mud gilded creek
Where we wash wine glasses.

Rocks with faces like statues
With growling voices that speak to you
                                                            come closer

The rock spirits spy
On silly schoolgirls from the shadows,

Dance under the sunlight,
Offer your stockings,
Give up your bodies.

Smoke-filled haze
Is the air where the crows caw.
And all the people look like ants
When you are the Hanging Rock.

A homage to the girls
Whose fate was set before they were purple-born

Aborigines bang drums
Policemen call into caves
The foreigner watched the moon rise
They all saw swans everywhere

These swans like in the scrapbooks we made
With pink ribbons and photographs,

A girl jumps off the balcony
And died with their dreams.