Cottage - Macedon
after the painting by Frederick McCUBBIN (undated)
This was the pile of stones you used to see
but rarely now. A chimney; a wild pear
seeded from the original; a free
flowering briar tangling here and there
from the one she planted by the window
waiting for spring to come in. Now winters
have their way and flakes of porcelain show
up after rain - all that remains of her
fine English tea-set, incomplete. But it
marked a civility she clung to
then, in the slab-built hut, he only meant
to be temporary. First and last made do.
How often she saw thin blue chimney smoke
trail into trees, her endless hours of work.
near Parachilna, Flinders Ranges
Salt bush carpets the front room
and at night only the wind's tongue
in the crumbling chimney.
The woman who polished the step
and swept the yard is buried
unmarked where her broom stopped.
Her husband drank himself blind years ago
on drought, heat, and flies.
Only she remained and kept up the ritual
of keeping things at bay.
Turned her back on the futility of the ranges
that blew up dark clouds each afternoon
with the delusion of rain
that sank in her heart with dust.
©Jeff Guess 2017