Where eagles soar on high, raptors in that vaulted sky
Over ocean-flat scrub-speckled plain
Featureless, except for a ribbon of highway
Stretching from nowhere to nowhere ;
A vast emptiness inhabited by spirits and the wind.
A land, devoid of water or oceaned by flood.
Much too much or never enough.
My cousin’s place down there;
Twelve miles from letterbox to door,
One fifty miles around the rim
And miles and miles of fencing
To keep the sheep and cattle in.
My cousin ; blue eyes, weathered face and sun-parched lips
Beneath his Akubra ; cotton drill shirt , once white moleskins
And dusty leather elastic-sided boots, in his Ute ;
A dog upon the tray to help round up the odd stray.
Crotching,drenching, shearing, lambing , fencing, slaughtering ;
A life defined by tasks and not by time ;
Leastways not nine to five.
The town, a Servo cum convenience store , butcher’s, baker’s, Public Hall ,
A mechanic’s yard and shed for the bigger jobs,
Welding metal holding pens and water tanks ,
The haberdashery and milkbar long since gone ,
Now empty husks upon the highway,
Broken dreams littering the road.
Just out of town past the dry creek bed,
A clapboard church and graveyard where the dead
Can rest peacefully in this spirit land .
While back in town beside a strip of lawn and an empty set of swings ,
An obelisk , with the family names of those who shared the suffering ,
Seeking adventure or maybe escape ,
Here for ever remembered their common fate
As those empty swings sway gently with the wind.
While those who returned and those unlucky conscripts like me ,
Who shall remember them and their PTSD?
Maybe only unfortunately their wives and children
A shot rings out across the plain,
Another life gone but who’s to know?
As those empty swings sway gently to and thro
Stay safe Cuz