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(22 September 1913 - 1988 / Charters Towers, Queensland)

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Drought

Midsummer noon: and the timbered walls
start in the heat;
and the children sag listlessly over the desks,
with bloodless faces oozing sweat
sipped by the stinging flies.

Outside, the tall sun fades the shabby mallee
and drives the ants deep underground;
the stony driftsand shrivels
the drab, sparse plants;
there's not a cloud in all the sky to cast
a shadow on the tremulous plain.
Stirless the windmills; thirsty cattle, standing despondently about the empty tanks;
stamping and tossing their heads,
in torment of the flies from dawn to dark.

For ten parched days it has been like this
and, although I love the desert I
have found myself
dreaming
of upright gums by a mountain creek
where the red borinia blooms,
where bellbirds chime through the morning mists,
and greeness can hide from the sun;
of rock-holes where the brumbies slink
like swift cloud-shadows from the gidgee scrub
to drink when the moon is low.

And as I stoop to drink, I too,
just as I raise my cupped hands to my lips,
I am recalled the drought-stricken plain
but the petulant question
of a summer - wearied child.

Submitted: Friday, April 16, 2010


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