Life Outback

Written by: Mike Walsh

Dawn too short and a baby sun
is grown to womanhood within an hour
and sends the Tablelands the sweeping gesture 
of her fiery arms.
Further out, explosions of dry Spinifex grass;
the distant desert's oily ticking bomb.
Black smoke rolls on the breeze
above the ribbon of the red blaze line.
The clanks of the metal mill man
draw life from the deep down artery,
the hot wind his assistant,
goads the blade into rotation.
Droughtmaster chews on churlish Mitchell grass
and salt bush watered by the moonlight dew.
Wandering, blinking in the dust
along the wire on the Forty Mile Fence.

Relentless women sigh in torpid dreams.
Moist fishtail ferns fan out around the tank,
soft drips; the hard water of little tears
on to the hallowed garden.
They grow like ragged wildflowers;
the sun burned clay plains men
far out in the fade of the red twilight.