Saturday, August 22, 2015


Under a stretched sky of periwinkle flame,
Rolling hills of pastel green pastures and paspalum,
Studded with stands of ironbark.
The biggest branches towered,
Tipped with crimson blossoms,
Tangs of eucalyptus in the clear air.

Knee-length grass
Swathed the gentle slopes,
Slender stems swayed
Like waves at sea
In the tender breeze.
Distant stunted mountains,
Faded into soft misty blues
Around cliff faces creamed
With scraggy sandstone bluffs.

Houses uninhabited and derelict.
Timber panels scarred by fire.
Shattered glass panes
Between stained window frames -
Ugly shards deterring visitors.
One child at a table –
A blonde waif licking a spoon,
And seated on a high chair.

Next, a disheveled work site,
Like an old factory,
Or a set of storerooms.
Sheets of corrugated iron
Nailed niggardly together,
Metal rivets rusting,
Unfastened flaps
Creaking back and forth in the wind.
Workers idle,
Dressed in tartan flannelette shirts.

Beyond the ruins
Lazed an open cut mine -
A shallow quarry –
With no remnants of wealth.
In the midst of this pit of murky rubble,
Buried up to his neck,
A black man strained and twisted
So his bloodshot eyes could focus on me.

Beside the diggings,
Tracks went up
A trivial verdant hill;
And a dreamtime voice
Called from the top of the rise:
‘Here are the dead.  This is the home of the dead.’
The words floated on the air
Like far-flung flower petals
Roused by an easy zephyr.
But at the summit
There were no marked graves.

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