rock chucking black pastie-crusts
to the dark
(Jordie Albiston, ‘Tregeseal Nancharrow’, the Book of Ethel)
You can see that she was fond of what she saw,
the way a she-oak’s grey will break apart
to gold and purple; brown rocks
cluttering the foreground.
She made no concession
to nostalgia’s green longing –
her native grass is bleached of colour,
bush and distant ranges’ varying mauves
mark out shade’s intensity; she understood
a landscape reticent about its beauty
and painted what her eye saw.
Nearer he draws to the gum-tree scrubby horizon, turns the clouds to orange, scarlet, silver flame, gold! Down, down he goes. The gorgeous, garish splendour of sunset pageantry flames out; the long shadows eagerly cover all; the kookaburras laugh their merry mocking good-night; the clouds fade to turquoise, green, and grey; the stars peep shyly out; the soft call of the mopoke arises in the gullies!
Now that it was settled that I had no more to teach the dirty children, out of dirty books, lessons for which they had great disinclination, and no more to direct Lizer’s greasy fingers over the yellow keys of that demented piano in a vain endeavour to teach her “choones”, of which her mother expected her to learn on an average two daily, it seemed as though I had a mountain lifted off me, and I revived magically, got out of bed and packed my things.
I watched him depart along the white dusty road, looking like a long snake in the glare of the summer sun, until it and he who travelled thereon disappeared among the messmate- and hickory-trees forming the horizon.
I stood gazing at the hills in the distance on which the blue dreaming mists of evening were gathering, until tears stole down my cheeks.