Most days I don’t quite
think about it;
the livestock’s more important:
that filly to be broken in,
those vealers in a parching paddock—
or jobs less animate perhaps,
a cattle truck with dodgy clutch,
a fence that needs a strainer.
Sometimes cicadas bring them back,
those disagreements with my father
on stocking rates or sharper horses.
And tensions further back again,
grown mythical with distance,
between my father and his father,
the force who set the whole thing going,
that man who did the dreaming,
the one who even now
still throws the longest shadow.
I feel it from this high verandah,
looking down the river,
my own son, back now from the world,
confirmed in his decision,
and living with us down the hill,
my son who has his own small son
already on a pony.
Most days though I hardly notice
this symmetry that’s all around me:
two lives ago, the station’s founder;
two generations on,
my grandson down the hill.
I am the midpoint in between
and may, perhaps, live long enough
to see my grandson’s son.
Soon, if not already,
my own will start to disagree
on small things but politely.
There’ll be that first step back,
the one I made my father take—
and how the place went on without him.
The logic in a shifted fence,
a shortcut to the roadway in,
better bloodlines under saddles,
a paddock with my name …
these things at least may well outlive me.
And somewhere, too, I will concede
there’ve been the wives as well,
all down the generations,
kitchen-bound with kids and cooking—
and daughters, too—who’ve been in turn
edged out to other paddocks.
Most days though, it’s not like this.
Most days fulfil themselves
with all the jobs that still need doing.
High above the river here,
half-way between the source and sea,
I see exactly where I fit.
My son, I know, will call in shortly
restless with ideas.