© Tom Mc Ilveen

Winner 2011, Woolwagon Award, Crookwell Upper Lachlan NSW, and ‘New England in Verse’ Land of the Beardies Festival, Glen Innes, NSW.

At Alleromba, oh what joy, to welcome home a baby boy
as jubilation lingered in the frosty mountain air.
A ray of sunshine had arrived and he was nurtured and survived
the cold and isolation and the many dangers there.

Amongst the dingoes, roving dogs and tiger snakes in hollow logs,
there lurked a roaming yowie who was heard but seldom seen.
His ghostly legend still prevails around the winding, twisting trails
that scale the rugged ridges of a bottomless ravine.

The bandicoots and kangaroos with sulphur crested cockatoos,
amused the mountain lowries with their colours all aglow.
And wedge-tailed eagles flying high, attempted to identify
the wallabies and tiger quolls cavorting far below.

The mountain tops were their domain, just like the child who would remain
the progeny and product of this everlasting land;  
with wild bush flowers on the ground and eucalyptus all around
a clustered clump of scribbly gums and bloodwood in a stand.

The moisture in that foggy haze evaporated in the blaze
of summer heat that desiccated fertile grazing land.
With drought and famine everywhere, the countryside was scorched and bare
as fertile soils degraded into worthless arid sand.

A bitter disillusioned wife, who’d opted for a better life,
resented her confinement and attempted to elude
the brutal harsh reality of shattered dreams and fantasy;
unable to accept her fate and constant solitude.

She left the day the bank foreclosed and drove out calmly unopposed,
returning to her father’s land, a paradise below.
A place of billabongs and streams protected from the vast extremes
of Mother Nature’s fiercest droughts and freezing highland snow.

Though disappointed and confused, his mother’s absence had infused
an overwhelming sense of loss within her only son.
A message on his bedroom door had told him that she’d miss him more
than words could ever utter, till this dreadful drought was done.

The endless summer persevered and meagre pastures disappeared
beneath a ruthless sun and glaring, cloudless, aqua sky.
They sweltered daily in the heat refusing to admit defeat
as scarcity had forced them to survive throughout the dry.

The boy stood taller than his years and grew to overcome his fears
and comforted his father, giving reassurance there.
But something in the old man died, as he no longer could provide
relief from bitter failure which had lingered in the air.

The calves were also left alone by mothers who were skin and bone,
surviving on the remnants of that dusty barren waste.
The vermin crows were first to feed, to satisfy their constant need
and waited in the shadows for regurgitated taste.

Their eerie presence seemed bizarre with cries of cawing from afar,
and blackened silhouettes grotesque in fading filtered light.
An evil omen, birds of prey that smelt of death and foul decay;
whose victims were all vanquished, God forsaken in their plight.

His father said he must prepare to leave that mountain of despair
and lead them to the Promised Land where holy waters flow.
He knelt and prayed and then implored, ‘Deliver us from ruin Lord;’
beseeching God as Moses did three thousand years ago.

Like pilgrims from the desert sands they placed their trust in sacred hands
and longed for sanctuary far beyond this wretched place.
They persevered around the clock and mustered all surviving stock
and drove them down the mountain side in search of open space.

Through wattle bush and sapling gum the mob had proven troublesome
as they continued slowly down the leeward western side.
Emerging further down the slopes, the greener pastures stirred their hopes
as cattle grazed contentedly, their hunger satisfied.

From Alleromba’s desert sand they’d found their hallowed Promised Land
where milk and honey flowed from every eucalyptus tree.
A mother and her long-lost boy had hugged and wept with tears of joy
and revelled in the rapture of a faded memory.

Prevailing winds blew moistened cloud which hovered like a ghostly shroud
above the mountain top producing welcome summer rains.
The bedrock channelled water down, creating streams that were renown
throughout the local valley quenching thirsty slopes and plains.

A reunited family had prospered through adversity;
remaining ever grateful for escaping Satan’s spell.
Forever blessed by saving grace and hoping never to retrace
their exodus from Hades having done their time in hell.

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