By Eunice AndradaPoetry Giramondo Publishing
In Flood Damages, Eunice Andrada explores the open wounds of colonial occupation, diaspora and inheritance. Through the figure of a young Filipina-Australian woman whose family has been irreparably damaged by deportation, violence and illness, events both political and personal are felt most keenly in and through the body – ‘your blood sings of the scattered histories/ that left you here’. A poet and performance artist, Andrada combines the passionate intensity of voice, image and rhythms of prayer to affirm the brown female body as a site of vulnerability and power.
Flood Damages brims with indelible images: a diasporic daughter’s tongue turning to rust as her country drowns, a nurse named Ferdinand Marcos conducting an allergy test, alternate copy for whitening cream, the conspicuous gaps between the lines of captions in a photo album.
Eunice Andrada’s debut brings a strong voice that reveals her skill as a spoken word performer yet transfers to the page with deft, subtle flow. Patriarchy, colonisation, climate change and deportation are just some of the currents running through this collection, which burns with musicality even as it shudders, shouldering so many forms of violence. But the bodies of water that separate families and destroy homelands in Flood Damages also offer a model of resilience, of survival and resistance, if not resolution.
Ma loads her gun with aratelis berries
shoots at Noy till the wildfruit explode
against his hair, then keeps shooting.
Syrup and rind spray against
their too-small shirts,
curl into the webs of their toes.
It is just after siesta and their backs
have been clapped with talcum powder.
The air is overripe
everything bruised and liable
to burst at the slightest touch.
Point of sale.
When dark begins to pour
around their laughter,
they abandon the wreaths of mosquitoes
that call them holy.
Splotches of juice blacken the soil,
punctuating the walk
to the dinner table.
In that festering summer, Ma learns
the futility of sweetness.
last meal before deportation
if there was a final dinner with my mother
before she left, I cannot recall it
but I can picture five brown bodies
and their light-skinned mother
embracing over the grimy carpet
I can’t remember what we ate for dinner
but I know she would have scoured
the fridge for substitute ingredients
if I had asked for my favourite dish
I know my mother would have told us
to hold each other’s hands
as she prayed in two languages
how my mother must have felt her mother’s
rosemary beads grind against her throat
as she breathed
testing idle hopes in her accent
choking back and eating the labels
dirty immigrant, illegal, TNT
so they would not find our plates
The Victorian Premier’s Literary Awards shortlist