A LETTER HOME — September 14, 1946

© 2008 — David Campbell

Winner, 2008 New South Wales State Championship, Morisset, NSW.

I am writing, dearest mother, of a land that’s like no other,
and a lifestyle that’s so far from all I’ve known.
But despite my homesick yearning there is so much I am learning
that there simply isn’t time to feel alone.

Though I miss the village chatter, it no longer seems to matter
that I’ve left the lanes and hedgerows well behind,
for this country is beguiling in a sense that has me smiling
at the sheltered way my life was once defined.

You have heard, I know, of sorrow, of a place with no tomorrow,
of a landscape that is stark and dry and bare,
where the wildlife is quite feral and each day is fraught with peril,
while the people, by and large, just couldn’t care.

But the tales of any nation are, in truth, exaggeration,
and one needs to pause and try to understand
how the past has been translated to the present now created,
for Australia is an ancient, timeless land.

As I write, the heat is fading, and a gum tree’s leaves are shading
me from daylight’s final blaze of blood-red sun.
While the distant hills still shimmer and I wait for starlight’s glimmer
I can ponder on the life I’ve now begun.

I remember you beseeching me to stay at home while teaching,
and I’m sorry that I caused you so much pain,
but I followed other voices, and, in taking up my choices,
I can truly say I’ve found so much to gain.

There is harshness in the weather, but it brings us all together…
we unite as one to face a common foe...
and the harmony of sharing brings a strength, a bond of caring,
that assists us all to prosper and to grow.

In the turning of the season I can find another reason
to renew my strength and keep my vow to stay,
for the drought has just been broken and each patch of green’s a token
of a future that at first seemed far away.

With the dams all overflowing and a breeze at twilight blowing,
it is possible to see some hope again.
In the people I am meeting there is joy, a friendly greeting,
for the lifeblood of the town flows with the rain.

But enough procrastinating, for, you see, I’m hesitating
to explain the major reason that I write.
All I ask is understanding, with a plea you’ll not be branding
me in haste with hurtful names, as well you might.

I have met a man, dear mother, and he’s unlike any other,
with a lifestyle that’s so very far from yours.
He is strong, yet kind and gentle, and there’s something elemental
in his knowledge of the land and nature’s laws.

He was wounded in the fighting in New Guinea, and that’s blighting
quite a lot of lives as men return back here.
There is little comprehension of the scale and true dimension
of the horror that they went through, and the fear.

But it seems as though he’s coping, and I very much am hoping
that the two of us can overcome the past,
for I love him very dearly and would ask that you, sincerely,
will support us both and make our union last.

Now I have one last confession, lest you get the wrong impression,
and I hesitate once more to set this down,
for I really need your blessing...your dismay would be distressing…
so I pray you’ll grant a smile and not a frown.

I have searched for words quite vainly, yet must state this very plainly,
for the man I love has skin as black as coal.
You may think I’ve lost my senses, but I’ve banished all pretences,
and I need him so, with all my heart and soul.

We will face discrimination with a joint determination
that we’ll do our best to prove the doubters wrong,
for his colour has no bearing on the life that we’ll be sharing,
but we know the road ahead is hard and long.

On our path lie many dangers, and the necessary changes
to this culture still lie decades down the track.
We’re just part of the beginning, in a battle well worth winning…
the acceptance for all time of white and black.

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