Star Poets | Kriss Nichol

3 March 2021

Kriss Nichol's poetry has appeared in numerous small press magazines, anthologies and online and won awards in several competitions. In 2016 she was commissioned to write a poem for Wigtown Book Festival. She has three poetry pamphlets of her published work, The Language of Crows (2012), Between Lands (2013), and A Suggestion of Bones (2017). Her latest book, a sequence of haibun, Ancient Anchors, was published in November 2020.

Here Kriss takes us south to look at the night sky with the Wiradjuri people. According to Wiradjuri dreamtime legend, emus were creator spirits that used to fly and look over the land. You can spot the emu there by looking south to the Southern Cross; the dark cloud between the stars is the head, while the neck, body and legs are formed from dust lanes stretching across the Milky Way. In Dreamtime, the creator ‘Baiami’, represented in the stars by Orion, chases the celestial Emu, imitating the annual movements of the constellations in the Wiradjuri night sky.

Wiradjuri Dreaming
by Kriss Nichol

in the forest      my ears attune to night sounds
a shuffle in undergrowth to my left
a swoop of wings from an owl
the dark is thick     devoid of light pollution
I look up through a bracelet of trees  
see galaxies play peek-a-boo with clouds 
that eventually clear     allow moonlight 
to penetrate the canopy     bathe me
while stars pepper the sky

I see Orion’s constellation     imagine
it reversed in your southern hemisphere
and see Baiami       who dreamed
the world and all creatures into existence
travel the celestial river     descend
make sacred marks      hills     rivers
deserts     grasses     seas    that you navigate
with songs     keep secret 
sites and ceremonies from prying eyes
of people      not from your mob

I imagine you in August      after sunset
within stone circles
your burbung* connects you to Baiami
who chases Emu across the sky  
elders initiate you     make you a man
in tune with Skyworld      where you return
as  a star     at sorry business time

© Kriss Nichol, March 2021

*‘Burbung’  is an initiation ceremony for young male Aboriginal people performed at a particular time of year.

Kriss’ Writer’s Page on Facebook:
Kriss Nichol, Writer - Home | Facebook

Her Blog:
diary of an invisible woman | the cat’s pyjamas (

Big Bang's Star Poets series is curated by Hugh McMillan

Find out more about the Star Poets here