I’ll See You When Your Troubles Get Like Mine: Julian Assange’s Father

Two males outdoors at protest Free Julian Assange protest signage


© 2019 by Alice Walker

for John Shipton

I’ll see you when your troubles
Get like mine… lord, lord,
I’ll see you when your troubles
Get like mine.

I was thinking about this song
While watching Julian Assange’s
Being interviewed
By 60 Minutes Australia.
The woman interviewer
Wanted him to
Admit his son’s defeat.
Dragged out of the Ecuadorean
Embassy in London
While shouting something
Hard to hear
About Donald Trump.

He looks old, his father says,
I am over seventy
He looks as old as me.

He has not seen his son
In more than seven years.
But, he says a moment later,
I looked into his eyes
As he was being put into the van
And they are good. His eyes
Are still good.  He is still there,
As himself.  He’s ok.

There is a sweetness to this father’s
Management of pain
That is moving.
White settler Australians
Have, for the most part,
Felt only threatening
To me, a “black fella” like
My kin the Nunga,
With whom I have sat
And cried.

I have viewed non-Nungas as people who have
Only destroyed much of what humans
Need to know to live on stolen land.

Fear of such destructiveness closed my heart.

It has taken a long time
To crack open again. But today, thank Goddess, it did crack.

This old, gentle, strong man
Is standing by his son. Saying No, Son,
I know you did not fail. I know you
Lived up to your ideals
Of what a young man, gifted with so
Much, must do.

It would feel so good to let you know,
In person,
How proud you make me feel
As your father.
How I wish we could share a beer
In a pub somewhere,
And I could slap you on the back
And say “Good On You, Mate!”

I can see him now. This aging white
Australian.  Of whom
I have been afraid.
There he is:
Where our own mothers and fathers have stood
And leaned, and rocked,
and knelt in grief,
For so long.  And where we ourselves
Might easily be.

Where our own parent
Has said to us:  Good for you, son!
Good for you, child! I see your eyes,
After seven or ten or fifteen
Or thirty-five or forty-three
Years in prison.  Often in solitary. You are all right!

At least with me.