A Stranger Walks Alone

© David Campbell

Winner 2012 Free XpresSion Literary Competition, West Hoxton NSW.

The soft dawn light that swallows night
lies faint on distant hills,
while fresh and clear, from somewhere near,
a magpie flutes and trills.

The wildlife wakes as daylight breaks
across the mulga plains;
the furrowed earth enjoys new birth,
refreshed by recent rains.

The savage drought and years of doubt
have gone, for now, at last,
there’s joy instead, we forge ahead,
our troubles in the past.

Across the land the people stand,
and build their dreams once more,
for there is hope that they can cope,
with good times now in store.

But cruel fate won’t tolerate
such freedom from despair,
and we are caught, dismayed, distraught,
by sorrow we can’t bear.

0ur daughter left and, quite bereft,
we don’t know what to do,
for now she’s gone we can’t go on;
she’s shattered all we knew.

Though but a child, and always wild,
we hoped she’d settle down,
seek peace of mind, and somehow find
a future in our town.

Instead she fought, and, sadly, sought
a life of drugs and sex,
a grim pursuit, so dissolute,
of broken human wrecks.

She fled the plains for city lanes,
for furtive, back-street deals,
and there she fell straight into hell,
a pain that never heals.

And so we found, on foreign ground,
a life beyond belief,
a daily fight to welcome night,
the darkness of relief.

A filthy mess, a torn school dress,
clothes strewn across the floor;
she’s matchstick thin with raddled skin,
this daughter we adore.

She cannot slip the demon’s grip,
it clamps her in a vice,
a ruthless hold, so bleak and cold,
and she must pay the price.

She screams and cries, but, sadly, lies
are all we seem to hear.
This monster rules, and stupid fools
like us should disappear.

Her voice is hard and roughly scarred
by smoke and lack of sleep;
she’s full of hate, and can’t relate,
while we are left to weep.

The needle pricks, the poison licks
all reason from her mind;
she’s in a place that has no trace
of those she’s left behind.

We grieve, and yet, we can’t forget
the love that she might need;
if we don’t care, then no-one there
will pay her any heed.

We wait our chance, a smile, a glance,
that says it’s not in vain,
a mute appeal, a sign that she’ll
come home to us again.

We can’t tell when, so until then
we face a great unknown
where darkness reigns, and there, in chains,
a stranger walks alone.

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