THE LAST FAREWELL
© Terry Piggott
Winner, 2015 Kangaroo Valley Folk Festival Poetry Competition, Kangaroo Valley NSW.
You’ll find no marble monuments or statues grand and tall,
perhaps a tiny ring of stones; more often none at all.
to mark the final resting place where unknown people lie,
amid the desolation here, beneath the outback sky.
No roads will lead you to this spot for tracks have long since gone
and left this place forgotten now as time moved ever on.
Most graves have all but disappeared beneath the shifting sands,
or overgrown by saltbush in this harshest of all lands.
Yet somewhere in this graveyard was a prize worth searching for
and ghostlike voices urged me on that I could not ignore.
I’d chanced upon this place while looking for a grave that day,
because of something precious that I’d found not far away.
It lay there almost hidden partly buried in the sand;
a marker from a grave somewhere, perhaps quite near at hand.
I scraped away the dirt and grime and words began to show;
a poignant, moving story told of heartbreak long ago.
The date was from the early days when gold lay all around
and I could sense the sadness then while holding what I’d found.
Perhaps imagination brought on by those words of grief;
the message was so touching in those lines so sweet, yet brief.
He’d written of his love for Sue no doubt when close to tears;
of how his love grew stronger with the passing of the years.
And visions of that tragic day went flashing through my mind;
a broken man stands by the grave I knew I now must find.
I searched among what looked like plots; the few that could be seen,
while trying to determine where perhaps Sue’s grave had been.
At first this task seemed hopeless; Just a waste of time I feared,
a stone or two had marked a few the rest had disappeared.
Then in a dusty corner there, at last a clue was found,
four termite riddled post stumps near what might have been a mound.
A close examination then confirmed this was a grave
and instinct told me this was Sue’s; the girl who’d been so brave.
I cleared away the bush and weeds and found a large flat stone
and carved into its rugged face the name of Sue was shown.
Again that sense of sadness as I looked down at this plot
and thought about a tragedy that time had long forgot.
Then vision’s of a strong man’s tears once more flashed through my mind;
her grieving husband must move on and leave his wife behind.
He’d face a lifetime of regret; decisions he would rue,
for all the gold that’s known to man could not replace his Sue.
I placed the marker by her grave then laid stones all around
and Sturt Pea seeds I’d gathered, I then scattered on the ground.
I hoped they’d bloom each winter and then brighten up the scene;
a lasting floral tribute, to a love that had once been.