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11.The Town I Loved So Well: Images of Gawler SA. 'The Wheatsheaf Inn'.

The Wheatsheaf Inn

Built 1849

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

©Jeff Guess 2017

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