Poem

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

               convenes

    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

 

 

which

  

          flag

 

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 Nov 9, 2019 as "Waltzing Matildas". Subscribe here.

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