Return to Dust
Dani Powell

Paperback | Apr 2020 | UWA Publishing | 9781760801380 | 180pp | 198x128mm | GEN | AUD$26.99, NZD$32.99

I am calling her Amber because amber is my favourite stone. In truth, it is not a stone at all. Technically, it is fossilised tree resin that has withstood all kinds of weather and woe, the likes of which would normally cause sap to disintegrate. Amber resists decay.

I am calling her Amber to give her something precious. To remind her of what the world has to offer. She knew this once, more keenly than most. But she has forgotten. I am hoping to remind her that the world's beauty isn't gone. That beauty exists inside things, sometimes trapped, often obscured.

When Amber returns to her home in the Australian desert one year after her brother's death, her hope is to move on from her grief, to start again. Invited to do some work in a remote Aboriginal community, she relishes the opportunity to return to country she loves so deeply. She hadn't realised her friend Andrew had a reason to ask her to come back.

She begins a three-day road trip on unsealed roads that link a constellation of Aboriginal communities. From the outset, it is as if she has been picked up willy willy on a windless day, and must be carried to the end of it —until the wind decides to drop. During this adventure, her composure is undone by a series of encounters, observations, the country itself, and she learns that grief takes its own time.

Told like memoir, spun like myth, this is a philosophical tale about coming to terms with the death of a loved one. About our way of dealing with death, and the offerings of another culture. It is about home, and how this is found in people as much as place.