COO-EE CALLING
© Brenda Joy, 2012

Winner, 2012 ‘Coo-ee March Section’, Coo-ee March Festival, Gilgandra, NSW.

Outside the wind of winter wails —
a chilling, churning dirge.
Its penetrating force assails
where age and aches converge.
Bare-boned from autumn’s onslaught, thin,
susceptible to cold,
her failing heart is giving in
with body frail and old.

Once youthful blossoms bloomed to joy
with fruits of summer’s phase.
Her husband’s love, her baby boy —
serene and sun-blessed days.
But love refrains in Coo-ee’s call
became a song for war
that lured her gallant man to fall
on far and foreign shore.

The march that saw her man depart
in ‘Hitchen’s Own’ brigade
soon stole the laughter from her heart
as price for war was paid.
The news of bloody battles fought
caused pain beyond belief
and hero’s medals won, had brought
no solace in her grief.

The strength it took to work the farm
through seasons’ harsh extremes;
To make ends meet, to ward off harm,
put paid to girlhood dreams,
Whilst bringing up her son alone
without Dad’s Coo-ee call
to fill the skies with joyous tone,
was the hardest blow of all.

She raised their son to manhood age
— she didn’t shirk her task —
but loneliness throughout this stage
was more than life should ask.
The tears she wept in empty years
without her husband’s aid
to help allay her woman’s fears,
saw hope and beauty fade.

Whilst cycling seasons subtly stole
vitality and strength
— no human being can control
    health sequences or length —
her fighting spirit faced defeat
as illnesses unfurled.
Her son observed his mum’s retreat
into another world.

And so she sits shut in, shut out,
shut down within her mind
but change has come there is no doubt
for nurses often find
although she seems cut off and lost
to visitors who cared,
a beam breaks through the winter’s frost
as Coo-ee calls are shared...

...with someone they can never see;
someone who makes her smile.
The man she loved? And could it be 
he’s waited all the while?
Perhaps he knows her time is near
to leave this earthly life?
His love-song Coo-ee call rings clear
for his beloved wife.

Outside she’s wretched, aged and ill,
depleted, weak and poor.
Inside she shares the magic still
as “Coo-ee” sounds once more.
Remembrance casts its healing balm
beyond the reach of pain.
In joyful state of inner calm
spring blossoms bloom again.

---

RETURN TO AWARD WINNING POETRY INDEX