IN THEIR FOOTSTEPS

© Terry Piggott

Winner 2021 Cervantes Festival of Arts – Bush Poetry Competition, Cervantes, West Australia.

I have followed in their footsteps from the Gulf down to the Bight,
over miles of sunburnt country with fierce summers at their height.
And I’ve seen the sad old ruins where so many dreams were crushed
and the now abandoned goldfields where the hopeful had once rushed.

I have trekked that rugged landscape where the daring chose to go,
through a hot and arid vastness in those days of long ago.
It was here that many perished in this harshest of all lands
and I swear I’ve heard their voices in the songs of singing sands.

I have shed a tear while standing by an infant’s grave outback,
just another sad reminder by a near forgotten track.
Where our pioneers had ventured as they sought to work this land,
but had paid the price in heartaches that so few now understand.

And I’ve viewed the ghostly remnants where the old towns used to be,
now abandoned to the wilderness with little left to see.
There’s an eerie feel about them, though there’s not a thing in sight,
just a whisper in the silence of an outback summer’s night.

There’s a sense of sadness always when you think about the past,
as you view the scattered remnants of old dreams that didn’t last.
For although these towns had thrived once they were doomed right from the start,
way back in those days when boom and bust were never far apart.

I have also seen those dust bowls writhing in the grip of drought,
where the settlers faced starvation as they tried to last it out.
Fighting daily to survive with not a penny left to spare,
watching dying stock and withered crops and no one seemed to care.
 
Yet despite the disappointments they had found the strength you need,
as they fought back from adversity determined to succeed.
Dreaming still about a future that they hoped one day to share,
while their women somehow kept them fed with cupboards all but bare.

I have thought about the sorrow felt for fallen sons in wars,
when so many young men lost their lives on distant foreign shores.
Leaving families to grieve for them throughout the years ahead,
as despair had swept this country and so many hearts had bled.

For I’ve seen the scrolls of honour that adorn each country hall
and have felt a stab of sadness for those men who gave their all.
love of country and its people saw them join up for the fight
and they gave their lives while fighting for a cause they knew was right.

Never now forget the lengths to which our pioneers had gone,
as they worked to build a future that one day they could pass on.
They had faced up to the challenge in this land of drought and flood
and have fought to keep us free, in battles soaked with Aussie blood.


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