Miles ago, when daybreak bleached the stars
the city ’s sky-glow died. Now sun-shafts bar
the thawing side of bills. White-whiskered spears
of frosted tussock fracture light or stand
blue-white where shade remains. Like shadows, years
have crept by, traceless, through these mountains and
camped in mental tents along this land,
I merely sojourn here.
Tar narrows as it arrows through the haze.
Beyond mirages pooled in hollows grey,
eye-tiring wastes of saltbush shroud a dry
and vaguely alien plain. Change comes with evening.
A reach of red-gums etched against the sky
lies mirrored in the river. Weaving
water-birds splash homeward leaving
faint wakes as daylight dies.
A Murray morning. Houses peer beneath
their wrap-around verandahs. Orchards wreathed
by smoke from pruning-fires stand winter-bare.
My country once. Embroidered stories line
the roads like mile-posts here. But no-one shares
their maze of merging fact and fancy. Time
has emptied out my legends. Signs
hear strangers’ names. But where
hills heave again the vine-lined ranges ring
towns crowded with shared memories. Church bells swing
like upturned buckets pouring sound around
a Sunday. Tales begin in plural where
stone-homes house mutual history. In our towns
we find the common property we share
appreciates in value there
and stands on common ground.