© Terry Piggott

Winner, 2022 The Kembla Flame Award, Illawarra Breakfast Poets, Illawarra, NSW.

His campfire casts a golden glow below the craggy peak,
highlighting the serenity that night at Cripple Creek.
Long shadows seemed to dance in time as flames would rise and fall,
the silence only broken by a Mopokes haunting call.

He thinks about a sweetheart, whom he hopes will be his wife,
but wonders could he change his ways if starting married life.
To give away this life he loves would come at such a cost
and either way, he knows that something precious would be lost.

His thoughts are interrupted as a ghostly shape appears,
it’s creeping through the shadows now as stealthily it nears.
It pauses in the darkness just beyond the campfire’s light,
a silent stalking animal stood watching him that night.

At first a feeling of unease, was danger lurking near,
just what was out there watching, was there anything to fear?
And then as though it sensed his thoughts it crept out into view,
a dingo stood there staring as he sipped his mug of brew.

It crouched there for an hour or so with eyes fixed on his chair
and not a sound was heard by him while it was resting there.
He turned away to stoke the fire and put the billy on,
but when he looked back out again the dingo had now gone.

Two days passed by and not a sign: no doubt it’s far away,
yet still he hoped it would return and visit him one day.
An eerie sense of being watched caused him to look around
and standing just behind him there, a dingo stood its ground.

Ferocious eyes stared into his and caused a moment’s fright,
once more that feeling of unease he’d felt on that first night.
But soon he sensed it was no threat, just curious again,
a youngish dog just starting out; no fear as yet of men.

The random visits from then on enhanced his lonely days,
affection quickly blossomed once he learnt its timid ways.
He whispered softly to it, and this seemed to help somehow,
those yellow eyes though wary, were more trusting of him now.

And as the weeks passed slowly by the friendship seemed to grow,
although there still were boundaries where neither dared to go.
He knew it was imperative his mate stay wild and free,
a dingo’s life is under threat wherever it might be.

He never fed his newfound friend if it should happen by,
survival chances better served if it stayed wild and shy.
For dingoes were a target and are often shot on sight,
viewed as an enemy of man, such is the wild dogs’ plight.

By then he’d named it Rusty which had seemed a fitting name,
but never tried to change its ways; no wish to make it tame.
For work would soon be finished here out on his small gold show,
a few more days at most he guessed and then he’d have to go.

Remoteness and the rough terrain could help this dingo thrive,
few ever venture to this spot; with luck it might survive.
For soon the summer would be here to drive away the strays.
with many months for Rusty then to learn a wild dog’s ways.

He dawdled on a few more days although his work was done,
the last of those just marking time with little gold now won.
He’d seen no sign of Rusty as the final days ticked by,
it looked like he would have to leave without a last goodbye.

Reluctantly he tidied up and then began to pack
and right on cue as though he knew young Rusty had come back.
A feeling that he’d lost a friend was playing on his mind,
as he began to drive away and leave his mate behind.

The young dog followed for a while, then stopped and watched him go,
as down the hill he slowly drove towards the mill below.
A sense of sadness touched him as he paused out on the track,
saw Rusty was still watching him, but knew he’d not be back.

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