© Glenny Palmer

Winner, 2019 Cervantes Arts Festival – Written Bush Poetry, Cervantes WA.

* The Aboriginal name of ‘Daramulum’ is pronounced ‘D/th/arra/maal/an’

He scanned the rusted landscape with an aged and seasoned eye;
a barbarous horizon brushed a clear, malicious sky.
The heat fired clay mosaic of that last great basin cracked
and crazed its bed; its death throes cracking, crazing heart and head…
and William Strong the Third…began to cry.

The stillborn air hung heavily with plaintive lowing pleas.
The shifting mob enshrouded in a dust cloud can’t appease
a dying creature’s cry for mercy; merciless the land
withholding grace. The only rain, the tear on each man’s face…
and William Strong the Third…fell to his knees.

He scoured an unforbearing heaven, cursed his god, His tome,
then spurred his steed and like a demon rode the sterile loam.
Sheer anguish matched each stride with guilt—three generations beat
drought, fire, and flood; this spirit flooding, firing in their blood…
now William Strong the Third…could lose this home.

He scanned the rusted landscape with his ancient seasoned eye,
and saw the same horizon and the same malicious sky.
With onyx frame against a molten canvas, there he leaned
upon his spear; primeval stance of tribal life, austere.
Daramulum saw his brother cry.

The shadowed figures gathered in their solemn sacred rings.
Bullroarers whirled, appealing for the songs their master sings.
This Sky God, so ethereal his guise of spirit bird,
invoked the change; his shadow grew and swept across the range.  
Daramulum fanned his mighty wings.

The languid flora shuddered in anticipation’s vein,
and long forgotten moisture kissed the torrid air again.
The wild things thrust their heads aloft to sniff the changing breeze
as creatures do; sweet cumulus was bearing life anew.
Daramulum’s anthem…rain! Sweet rain.

The congregation chanted in a chorus of despair
beneath the cross of Jesus, unified in ardent prayer.
Humility and melancholy lowered each one’s head
and heart alike; with hearts renewed, behold!…the lightning strike…
but William Strong the Third…was absent there.

The mighty Sky God furled his giant wings and once again
embraced his Emu kin, converging with the red soil plain.
The Great Creator smiled upon His children for the joy
salvation brings; salvation in the song that Nature sings…
and William Strong the Third’s warm corpse…saw rain.

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