Treasure Island

David Lewis Paget

(22.11.1944 / Nottingham, England/live in Australia)

For the Love of Mildred Pierce


He lay awake in his narrow bed
And opened his bedside drawer,
Then fumbled around until he’d found
The thing he was looking for,
A faded folder, covered in dust
It must have been there for years,
‘I want you to take this folder, son,
And give it to Mildred Pierce! ’

His grandson blinked away a tear
And uttered a silent sigh,
Then dropped his gaze, he found it hard
To look in the old man’s eye,
He knew he wouldn’t be there for long
Though his steely brow was fierce,
He said, ‘Sure Gramps, I’ll pass it along
When I find your Mildred Pierce.’

‘You’ll find her back where I left her, when
The way of the world was wide,
Up on the banks of the Darling, she’ll
Be there on the Wentworth side,
She used to teach when the town was young
In a little timber school,
I should have stayed, but the girl had clung
And I guess I was just a fool.’

‘She looked so prim in her teacher dress
And her hair was up in a bun,
We used to walk by the river banks
When her teaching day was done,
Down in the shade of the eucalypts
I kissed her there one day,
With her hair let down on her shoulders
She said, ‘Please don’t go away.’’

‘I only stayed for the shearing, then
I followed the shearing tracks,
I had to keep on the move as long
As the wool grew on their backs,
We said goodbye at the junction where
The mighty rivers join,
I should have stayed for the love she gave
But my only love was coin.’

The old man, he was exhausted then,
Lay back, and then he sighed,
His grandson waited a moment, but
He saw that his gramps had died,
He took a look in the folder when
He settled in back at home,
And found a number of pages there
And each one was a poem.

One called ‘Sorry! ’ and one called ‘Why? ’
And one that he’d drowned in tears,
One that was just a stark lament
‘For the Love of Mildred Pierce’.
The boy had blushed at the poem meant
To eulogise her thighs,
While others sought for her tender lips
And the lovelight in her eyes.

He waited until the summer break
When the funeral was done,
Loaded the car and headed out
To where the rivers run,
He thought that she would be dead by this
It was just an exercise,
But when he had asked for Mildred Pierce
They had caught him by surprise.

‘She’s out on the banks of the Darling
You can’t miss her little shack,
She keeps herself to herself, prefers
To wander the outback.’
He stopped the car at her garden gate
And he called out by her door,
‘I’m looking for Mildred Pierce! ’ Then heard
Her footsteps on the floor.

He half expected an ancient dame
With half a foot in the hearse,
But what he saw was a lovely girl
And still in her tender years,
‘They named me after my mother
Who was named for her mother too,
But Gran’s been gone for ever so long
So what did you want to do? ’

They sat on her small verandah, and
He showed her the folder then,
‘My gramps wrote these for your grandmother,
Some time in the way back when.’
She slowly read through the pile of verse
And her eyes had filled with tears,
‘I’d heard all about this shearer from
My grandma, Mildred Pierce.’

‘He couldn’t have known they had a child,
My mother arrived in the spring,
And she was told who her father was
But they never heard a thing.
My Grannie died as a spinster, still
A teacher at the school.
How sad that he couldn’t reach her then
To say that his heart was full.’

They went to walk by the river where
Some fifty years before,
A teacher walked with a shearer for
A magic moment more,
They stopped, stood under the eucalypts
With them both reduced to tears,
And that was the moment he kissed her,
For the love of Mildred Pierce.

Submitted: Thursday, September 19, 2013
Edited: Thursday, September 19, 2013

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