Passing cars waved wipers. By the road
the mile-long foot-wide furrows lipped and filled,
then trickled off to creeks. A soaking, slow,
low-ceilinged sort of day – the kind that drowns
the tussocked gullies in between the hills
and ﬁlls the marks that gates make. In the towns
the farm-machinery salesmen estimate
how far such days stretch overdrafts and while
they watch through rivulets and windows, wait
and smile like rabbit traps. An autumn ended here
in muddy boots on bar-rails and a rain
that separated seasons. Here a year
begins on days like these
in monochromes of cloud and hills and wind.
And then the added greyness of galahs –
wet, winter-driven clowns who sought the thin,
whipped shelter of the pepper-trees and swayed
half-camouﬂaged by berry-shells. Then strained
by distance, saw-edged voices rasped around
the fringe of hearing. Gate-rails dripping in
the switched-off-engine stillness and the low,
hushed, running-guttered, soon-be-seeding sound
of stable and verandah roofs in rain.
You asked me what the name means? I suppose
it could mean welcome and a sag of chairs
along a north verandah, sprinklers, rows
of summer cannas, lawns and talking. Now
it may mean May and dripping shelters shared
by arguing galahs. It may mean boughs
of pines and peppers raking rain-soaked ground.
Perhaps it means a season and contains
faint, end-of-shearing, jeep-and-sheepdog sounds.
it may mean all these things but if I say
it’s Irish and it means a wet galah
you’d simply shut your mind up. Anyway
that’s what it means to me.