THE END OF AN ERA
© Terry Piggott
Winner 2013, Oracles of the Bush – Serious Section, Tenterfield NSW.
The whisper of a cooling breeze comes with the fading light,
while silence brings a peacefulness that visits here each night.
A distant glow still paints the sky beyond the western track
and dusk has spread its hazy veil throughout the vast outback.
The old bloke watches from his camp and views the scene once more,
a ritual he’s carried out ten thousand times before.
His craggy face is lined with age and wears a worried frown;
he’s fearful of the plans afoot to move him into town.
This night will be the last one that he spends at his old shack,
for in the morning he must leave; there’ll be no turning back.
Coerced by the authorities who’d used a knowing tone,
when arguing an old bloke shouldn’t live out bush alone.
At first this seemed to make some sense – he’d passed his best he knew;
but soon the doubts had risen; secret fears began to brew.
To change his way of life now seemed a stupid move to make
and in his heart he sensed by then he’d made a huge mistake.
And as the time approached to leave anxiety had grown,
he loved the outback solitude - the only life he’d known.
His trips to town to get supplies and spend a hour or two,
were brief and not too often from this life he loved and knew.
His sleep that night was restless, haunted by the thoughts of change,
to share a home with other folk was bound to seem quite strange.
For fifty years he’s lived out bush, most of that time alone
and happy memories abound; but how the years have flown.
His old tin shack was creaking as it warmed there in the sun,
the old bloke looking pensive as another day begun.
Somehow this day seemed clearer as he watched from his back door
and surely trees looked greener than they had the day before.
He anxiously looked southward from the doorway of his shack,
for soon a telltale wisp of dust would show up on the track.
And then he’ll have to leave this place, his home for fifty years;
now destined for an old folks home, despite his growing fears.
While some may say he had lived rough; he’d never felt that way,
he’d gladly end his days out here - if only he could stay.
Another look along the track, there’s still no dust in sight,
a few more moments to reflect; not sure this move is right .
He doubted that he’d last for long, if forced to live in town,
convinced a change of lifestyle now would quickly wear him down.
Then fretted at his foolishness in being talked around,
he’d given in without a fight; he should have stood his ground.
A faint noise in the distance had him peering down the road,
then saw the rising dust cloud with the ill that it forebode.
Wild thoughts were flashing through his mind; but knew it was too late
and like a man condemned he stood, awaiting now his fate.