God’s Will Be Done

(Inscription on child’s headstone, Moonta, South Australia, Typhoid epidemic February 1870)

Fourteen times that day God’s will was done.
Fourteen black-and-dust-clad groups went home.
Past lanes where privies festered in the sun.
Past blind-drawn windows where Directors prayed
and paused and Pilated their hands
then turned to Work God’s will again. A day
of dust and coming thunder. Going home
to threat-and-blessing rain, a rain that spilled
diluted sewage into tanks and wells
that waited, greening in the dark. Back home
to something missing, something silent, still
and soundless as a photograph of bells.

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