Shifty Eyes

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Shifty Eyes

Tilda Colling

“Convex Mirror” by Lima Pix is licensed under CC BY 2.0 

I see the shift in people’s eyes.


Everyone does it.

Most people try to hide it but they’re the worst of all.

Covering up the pang of disgust, hatred, intolerance,

that suddenly courses through them as though they are the metal rod in a shower of lightning.


I am exotic,

a mystery,

skin easily melding with the rest; just squint and tilt your head and I am the same.


I am Yorta Yorta.


It runs through my blood and those veins root into this land like a sprawling eucalyptus tree.

Down south, my country is made of Eucalyptus Forests,

they stand as individual intricate tree trunks,

but as a breeze blows through, their leaves shake as one.


Their eyes shift and they become watchmen.

For my safety:

to teach me not to use my slang,

to remind me when I don’t wear shoes,

to notify me that I’m playing into stereotypes as soon as I sip a single cider.

They must be heroes,

only superhumans can watch this closely.

Perhaps they are scientists,

I have not noticed the maze yet,

but under their eyes I do feel mousy.

Maybe doctors,

They say these things to help me,

to heal me from my affliction,

It’s a genetic disease,

but the prognosis is good,

it’s only going to cost me 7.8 years off my life.


I wish my eyes could shift with such power.

If I could meld what they see when their eyes shift.

That would be the power.

To embed images of the children without drinking water under their eyelids.

To inject the face of a person who is twice as likely to commit suicide into their corneas.

To smatter the smiling image of a boy telling me that in his language Wak-Wak means crow into their skull.

To litter their perception with a happy family gathered around a TV trying to guess the answers to The Chase before their nan.


To show that I am the single one of thousands that has been given privilege to exist in this world the way I do,

but to scream into the ether of the misfortune of my bloodline being raped, murdered, and my culture being strangled into unconsciousness by the bloodlines of theirs.

My screams would join the chorus, no, the orchestra of voices yelling just to first gather enough attention,

Because we know that if we started on our ever-growing list; we could not possibly finish and still have their ears.


Smile. Nod. Stay quiet.

What’s the point of yelling if you aren’t being listened to anyway.


Maybe if our eyes held the power,

Things could shift.


Tilda Colling is a young aspiring writer armed with deep passion for equality and providing a voice for the disenfranchised. As Tilda grew up, she discovered a strong sense of self when connecting with her family as a Yorta Yorta woman. In 2022 she entered her Bachelor of Arts and she continues to write various forms of media.

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