The hot afternoons of childhood holidays
when the sky stretched pale blue
and hills were swathed in knee high grass
tinder dry, drought-brown,
sectioned by rusting barbed wire and crumbling posts.
The green smell of the river
with it's frogs and reeds and eels
familiar banks choked with willows, filtering sunlight
the crude dam that we built the year before
from stones that changed colour as they dried.
The tree that fell back in the sixties, forming a bridge
that my father used to drive across
to a campsite lost beneath two decades of neglect
fading from the slowly unwinding future
seemingly bent on unravelling a simpler way of life.
The loneliness of eastern Gippsland
the back road from Ensay to Swift's Creek
the mighty Tambo River
the sad little cemetary that only the locals know
the commemorative tree planted for a forgotten warden.
Time runs down the years
Flashing past ever more quickly
while the old homesteads crumble
their corrugated iron roofs buckling under the rust
and the sun in the summer of my youth.