Poetry

Jim’s Monologue

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.

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