Auf Spätersehen

(Barossa-deutsch meaning “see you later”)

On Sunday mornings scarfed and Lutheran-suited
he creaked his Nugget-booted way towards
one of the many bells that ring among
humped, wind-chafed ranges and across broad floors
of vine-lined valleys huddled in the sun.

So much for winter Sundays. During waves
of work-day harvest heat he ’d lubricate
each hour by charging up his pannikin
three fingers high with sherry that he slaked
with water poured from bags that swung where thin

and tattered shade splashed patches under vines.
Hemp-scented sherry! Stunned, numb-tongued, I peered
across the spinning valley. As I gagged
between the heaving vines be roared “Great year
for sherry yet, but crook for water bags. ”

He spread his hospitality around
like measles and was hurt when I refrained
from sharing in his harvest fuel although
I still taste it when I hear “Auf Spätersehen”
the call he bawled through she-oaks by the road.

I taste it, too, when Summer hazes hills
or she-oaks swing in wind by blue-stone walls.
Or when old yarns are spun round bottles. Then
sherry-misted reminiscences recall
enamel pannikins and absent friends.




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