THE GEM 7 MARCH 2015 :
for Peter Barden
Penury in Sydney had grown stale
And, at twenty-two, my childhood was in danger
So I preceded you, in all but spirit,
To the far-back country
Where the tar roads end.
In the silent lands
Time broadens into space.
Approaching Port Augusta, going on,
Iron-brown and limitless, the plains
Were before me all day. Burnt mountains fell behind
In the glittering sky.
At dawn, the sun would roll up from his lair
In the kiln-dry lake country, fire his heat straight through
The blind grey scrub, awaken me beside wheeltracks
And someone’s car, and I would travel on.
At noon, far out in a mirage, I would brew
Tea with strangers, yarn about jobs in the North
And, chewing quietly, watch maybe an upstart
Dust-devil forming miles off, going high
To totter, darken
And, quite suddenly, vanish
Leaving a formless, thinning stain in the heavens.
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