© Kym Eitel

Winner, 2011 ‘Silver Brumby Award’, The Man from Snowy River Bush Festival, Corryong, Victoria, ‘Oracles of the Bush’ – Serious Section, Tenterfield, NSW.

By the gumtree in the paddock, Taffy stands.
A handsome palomino, fifteen hands.
He hears his owner calling
so he canters to the gates.
For his boy to take him riding, Taffy waits.

The Remount Section’s looking.  Taffy’s sold.
He’s strong and fit with coat and heart of gold.
He’s led aboard a steam ship.
Taffy’s tense but braves the fates.
Across the sea he travels.  Taffy waits.

His rider’s Corporal Edwards, Taffy’s friend.
They form a special bond no war can end.
Each day brings blood and battle,
lack of food emaciates,
but at night he rests by starlight.  Taffy waits.

Through explosions, bullets, shrapnel, Taffy strides,
hears Edwards curse the Turkish as he rides.
Then a scream, and Edwards falling
as a bomb shell detonates.
By his wounded rider’s body, Taffy waits.

Edwards reaches out a hand and Taffy neighs.
His instincts spur to flee this blood-filled blaze.
Taffy’s loyal to his partner;
nearby fighting escalates
but he won’t desert his rider.  Taffy waits.

His muscles twitch with fear then Taffy sees
his master rising slowly to his knees.
Despite the crack of gunfire,
in the smoke-filled hell he hates,
and despite grenades exploding, Taffy waits.

His eyes are ringed with white, poor Taffy’s scared
but thankful that his rider has been spared.
Heroic hoof beats gallop
through the enemy to mates.
By the canvas tent with crosses, Taffy waits.

He hears the war has ended.  Taffy sighs.
But ‘home’ is not an option.  Edwards cries.
Each man must shoot his mount now,
and in spite of mass debates,
for a single, silver bullet, Taffy waits.

In the peaceful grass in Heaven, Taffy rests.
Three hundred thousand horses, other guests.
But he’s waiting for two people
as he stands by pearly gates.
For his boy and Corporal Edwards, Taffy waits.

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