11.The Town I Loved So Well: Images of Gawler SA. 'The Wheatsheaf Inn'.
The Wheatsheaf Inn
At either end of this old long room
below the late secluded Sunday
conversation and comforting clatter
of crockery and cups
two lit fires exchange
the secret winks of long association.
No table is empty
each chair leans into warmth and words
outside July clouds at the glass
in here hot strong tea bites at the cold
and in the grate the red bright coals
are flickering full of forgotten faces.
Ghosts are between the glances
tumbling silently about the room
coming in from a crowded
century of summers
and as many winters — with the old whip
of wind and rain at their backs.
Now the gentle tea-room air
is baked with scones and steams
with small brown pots of scalding tea
only the old stone walls
still sway heavy with all the stories
at night the floor creaks with words.
Outside the deep ruts of bullock teams
are buried under bitumen and stone
cars nudge along the hitching rail
gone are the slow boisterous hours
of licensed song and refilled glasses
the place has earned a kind of ease.
Time for another cup and to be drawn
back to the fireside and the flames
someone sets more stumps beneath
a backlog breaking into constellations
of flying stars — still collecting
dreams and playing with our shadows.
©Jeff Guess 2017