WHAT PRICE PROGRESS?
© Ellis Campbell
Winner 2011 Charlee Marshall Memorial Festival, ‘Golden Cockatoo Award’, Biloela, Queensland.
We revel in technology—it rules each person’s life –
we need its vast assistance to avoid eternal strife.
Computers, faxes, television, scanners—Internet –
text messages and Email, too, much faster than a jet.
With calculators, mobile phones and I-pod, too, of course –
world wide commuting passengers are travelling in force.
Communication’s instant and finance controlled with ease –
how clever is technology—how cool such things as these!
Jim glanced around the gorges and the mountains that he’d crossed –
with faint alarm he sensed a fear that maybe he was lost.
Grey showers screened a timid sun and made directions vague –
without a compass he was slewed and fog loomed like a plague.
He cursed himself for foolishness—he’d come here on his own
and not expecting weather change, he’d left his mobile phone.
No way to indicate concern and state he was perplexed –
if he could only phone someone or maybe send a text!
Smoke signals were beyond his ken—so primitive he knew –
and none could read those, anyhow—as natives used to do.
He longed to light a fire though, to keep the cold at bay,
but without matches hope was lost—there was no other way.
The Aborigines, of course, would use their fire sticks –
an art beyond the white man’s skill—like many native’s tricks.
He spent the night in misery, hunched cold behind a rock –
he knew he was completely lost—the night sounds rose to mock.
Jim stumbled on in morning light, confused by everything –
the hunger pangs began to gnaw, he felt the frost-bite’s sting.
Without a gun he could not kill an animal to eat,
or catch a fish without some gear—he faced complete defeat.
The natives used their boomerangs, their nullahs, slings and spears
to fish and hunt in plenitude for many thousand years.
If he accomplished catching game by means of skill or force –
without a fire cooking was impossible, of course.
He heard a helicopter, churning through the misty sky,
and waved his arms in frenzy but it kept on droning by.
He blundered on in senseless mode—directionless he trudged –
he cursed the folly of his quest and distance he’d misjudged.
Three sleepless nights and days of hunger left him quite distressed –
he knew that searchers would be fazed by problems manifest.
But still he stumbled gamely on, determined to survive –
the thought of rescue bolstered him and kept his hopes alive.
Without a compass, safety matches, gun or mobile phone
the Aborigines survived and made this land their own.
The wonder of technology that modern men must know,
falls short of what our natives knew ten thousand years ago!