© Brenda Joy

Winner, 2014 Nandewar Poetry Competition, Narrabri NSW.

I skirt the hills of houses screening rays from sunlit sky
and leave the cluttered, coastal brim where comfort-seekers vie
for symbols of prosperity, through plans that pass them by
in traffic jams, where city reaches — multi-storeys high.

Beyond the verdant, up-thrust rim that forms the Great Divide
I head across the barren plains that sun and wind have dried,
where Eucalypts, like scattered soldiers, battle on beside
the road that yawns in boredom through a country sparse and wide.

The emptiness out-stretches into silent, endless space,
as miles of lonely landscape disappear without a trace
of change to stir emotions, till I reach my childhood place
and feel familiarity’s encompassing embrace.

The longest part of life has passed since setting off to find
a more alluring future with desires all neon signed.
But images come reeling back from corners of my mind
and years collapse to yesterday as hands of time unwind.

The kitchen-table talk and tales, the hours we would spend
in sing-songs ‘round the old piano — life a balanced blend
of work and play and simple fun, where everyone would lend
a hand to help each other out, would stand behind a friend.

The laughter in my parents’ eyes from love they gladly shared,
the code of conduct they observed by which we kids were reared,
the sad goodbyes, the tears that flowed because they really cared —
yet still I left to forge my life where loud enticements blared.

I wind on past the weathered house and reach the sheltered creek
where magic days were spent in play.  I’m greeted by the shriek
of cockatoos and lorikeets, whilst wind-brushed branches speak
in whispered tones of bush-bred ways to find the peace I seek.

Beneath their cushioned canopy, the trees have come to know
the stories, stage and characters, through watching children grow.
Those memories reflected in the crystal water’s flow,
immerse my consciousness in thoughts and joys of long ago.

A distant car horn intervenes to end my reverie.
The new arrivals need the final signature from me.
Reluctantly I reach the house to sacrifice the key
then drive away, bereft of dreams that can no longer be.

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