Each Morning, When I First Awake
© David Campbell

Winner, 2014 Bush Lantern Award competition for written bush verse, Bundaberg Queensland.

Each morning, when I first awake,
with dawn’s soft light about to break,
a glimmer,
just a shimmer
of a moment in the day,
he’s still alive and lying here,
his gentle breathing very near,
revealing
how I’m feeling,
for he’s never far away.

I struggle, sometimes, to explain
the way I can, through time, sustain
devotion,
for emotion
is a fragile state of mind.
And yet I seem to find the will
to carry on, to climb that hill
of grieving,
still believing
in the happiness I find.

I can’t forget that dreadful night,
the howling wind, our frantic flight,
unseeing,
blindly fleeing
in a panic down the track
towards the bridge across the creek
that led to town, where we could seek
direction,
and protection,
for there’d be no turning back.

The cyclone’s fury, now released,
exposed a savage, hungry beast,
a living,
unforgiving
monster crushing life and hope,
destroying all we’d worked to build,
a vision shattered, unfulfilled,
now broken,
just a token
of the storm’s destructive scope.

A sudden flash of moonlight shone,
and showed, too late, the bridge had gone,
a raging,
wild, rampaging,
rushing torrent in its place.
Before we had the time to think
the car was sliding, on the brink,
then whirling,
madly swirling
in the water’s fierce embrace.

My memory is far from clear,
though I recall the awful fear,
and screaming,
as if dreaming
in a nightmare straight from hell.
I felt his arms around my waist,
then heard him shout, in urgent haste,
commanding,
and demanding
in that voice I knew so well.

I must have fainted from the cold,
and yet, somehow, he kept his hold,
committed,
although pitted
against nature’s awesome might,
to saving me from death’s dark shade,
so faithful to the vows we’d made,
refusing
thoughts of losing
while he had the strength to fight.

They found us quite a way downstream,
and I awakened from my dream
to voices,
talk of choices,
and a siren’s mournful wail.
I saw a face, then felt a hand,
but took some time to understand
revival
meant survival,
that my darling did not fail.

He had, they said, supported me
above the torrent, in a tree,
defying,
yet denying
any chance that he might live.
His heart could not withstand the strain,
he lost his life, but not in vain,
bestowing,
with his going,
all the love that he could give.

That thought is with me even now,
reminding me I must, somehow,
still treasure,
and take pleasure
in the years spent by his side.
I grieve, but yet he still lives on,
and will until the day I’m gone,
admiring
his inspiring
sacrifice with loving pride.


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