Henry Mackenzie Green

(2 May 1881 - 9 September 1962 / Sydney)

Cunningham's Gap


As I came over Cunningham's Gap
a skin of time peeled off the map
The fern's green ocean overflowed
the hard black surface of the road
and lapped the wheel rims of the dray
and the sweating bullocks where they lay,
and washed the car out of today.
A cloud of cockatoos, snow on the hill
shrieked out of distance and were still.
Cedar, sassafras, bunya pine,
stinging nettle and lawyer-vine
baffled my passage and blocked my sight
as I swarmed the hummocks and climbed the height.
But long months' labour through wood and waste
dropped from my bones as I gazed at last.
round to round, to the rim of the sun,
on a world of richness not yet won;
broad fat pastures and rolling downs,
Wheat fields and Orchards, farms and towns,
ghosts of the future surged at the gate
of time and being and would not wait.
As I shouted in triumph, the Darling Downs
leapt into life with farms and towns;
Wheat field and orchards, flocks and herds,
grass to the bellies, woke at my words.
the cloud of cockatoos, snow on the hill,
shrieked out of distance and were still,
and the skin of time crept over the map
as I started my car in Cunningham's Gap.

Submitted: Thursday, April 22, 2010

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