WHEN YOU WERE BY MY SIDE
© Terry Piggott
Winner, 2010 ‘Boree Log Award for Bush Verse’ Fellowship of Australian Writers, Eastwood/Hills NSW.
Remember when we started off along that dusty track,
just you and I so full of hope; we never once looked back.
Our home was just a draughty tent we moved from show to show,
while seeking golden nuggets all those many years ago.
And life was so exciting in this land so vast and wide,
the outback was a place of dreams, when you were by my side.
We bounced on over rugged tracks out where the eagles soar,
to try our luck in distant spots where few had been before.
And you were right there with me as we struggled on each day,
to find the precious metal that would make this venture pay.
Those isolated campsites were our refuge at day’s end,
among eroding hills where rough and beauty seemed to blend.
We’ve searched the likely gullies and along the winding creeks
and trekked across the endless flats and climbed the stony peaks.
I watched you as you toiled away with dust upon your face,
you always had a ready smile despite the solid pace.
We’d sit around the campfire with our steaming mugs of tea,
just soaking up the solitude so loved by you and me.
You loved the rugged beauty of this wild and pristine land
and viewed the changing scenery; the hills and desert sand.
The grandeur of the break-a-way, a timeless work of art,
a place of stunning beauty that can melt the hardest heart.
Majestic groves of gimlet stands of mulga and of gum,
we lived the life of nomads that our lives had now become.
We passed the lonely homesteads hidden in the far outback
and heard the creaking windmills as we crossed each station track.
And viewed the distant ranges shrouded in a purple haze,
that hid their many secrets from our keen enquiring gaze.
Then marveled at the sunsets as the light began to fade
and felt that we were lucky in this choice that we had made.
We’d known some scorching summers with their days of searing heat,
while longing for some cooling shade to rest our aching feet.
And felt the chill of winter when the ground was white with frost
and visions of Nirvana for awhile at least were lost
Then saw the country flooded after days of drenching rain,
while camped up on the high ground well above the flooded plain.
We watched the desert blooming after years of wretched drought,
with miles of vibrant flowers that soon paint the landscape out.
Next came the flocks of brilliant birds to feast upon the seed,
the budgies in their thousands join small finches here to breed.
Breath taking scenes of colour as the country lives again;
how quick the land recovers with a drop of precious rain.
Then came the time I had to say, “this is too hard for you”,
I’d seen your strength was fading; you had reached the end I knew.
From deep within your weary heart you knew that I was right,
yet still you were reluctant to give up without a fight.
And when that final day arrived, you bid a sad farewell,
to your beloved outback that had long since cast its spell.
I dream about those happy days; our spirits roaming free,
across the miles of wilderness while you were there with me.
And wish that I could turn back time and you’d be here once more,
to brighten my existence like you always did before.
Our camps were rough and basic but you tended them with pride
and life was at its very best, with you there by my side.