Maxine Beneba Clarke
Waltzing Matildas

a lot can go down

along the 200 red burning

      metres of track

between the victory lap


         and the starter gun


     on the podium,

tommie smith and john carlos

could bow their heads

         for civil rights,

and raise their proud black gloved fists

           all the way to the sun


kathrine switzer

     might register

under an assumed name

          for the boston marathon

and just like that, line up

         with the men


     around half time,

nicky winmar

      or adam goodes

could remind us

               exactly whose land we’re on


the afl might start a women’s league


     and cricket teams could refuse to play

   until the UN


    to end

apartheid in sport


whether or not

      they will stand

        for the anthem

may well be

   what a world-class athlete

becomes known for


is the number on your back

        worth more


than how you ran

     the team home

     to gold

in a thought-unwinnable

              4 by 1







do you fly


serena williams

   might nonchalantly keep serving,

and caster semenya

     could choose to run on



and all while the crowd brays,

        little things

could slowly change



   the australian women’s soccer team

could get world-first equal pay

This article was first published in the print edition of The Saturday Paper on November 9, 2019 as "Waltzing Matildas".

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Maxine Beneba Clarke is the author of The Hate Race and Foreign Soil. She is a winner of the Victorian Premier’s Literary Award for Poetry.

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