21 July 2019

38. WHERE I LIVE IN DROUGHT

A farm in the mountains
once full of grass fed cattle,
a home near a cliff edge
where Wedge-tailed Eagles soar.
I used to have a garden
but Red-necked Wallabies
needed it more;
devouring fifty rosebushes,
even ring-barking trees
for something to eat.
The last good rainfall
was winter three years ago;
since then the big dry
has become a climate disaster.               


I have watched as cows,
resembling calves themselves,
birthed puny babes
with spindly legs.



I saw my husband exhaust himself hand feeding the core breeders we have left.

Saw cattle swamp the buggy hungry for hay or cotton seed.

I thought they’d trample him in the rush to fill their bellies.

That was last spring, summer, autumn, winter, and those before it.
Two successive years of piddling rainfall, well under average.
Spring is the hardest time. 

Out of bitter winter into the heat with no rain, no green, no ease.
Every day is closer to rain.
The drought must end sometime.
It will rain again.

We’ve been saying these tired lines for thirty-two successive months;
and it’s hard to hold out, to keep believing it will happen when even
the optimists are subdued.
 
Three summers hotter than any on record. Thirty or so forty degree days each year baking an already scorched earth until it cracks.
Until we crack
until farms and farmers fail
though they’ve drought proofed
and understocked
and delayed planting crops for ages.
Until towns close businesses
and townspeople crack
then fall apart
with even the cities buckling
under harsh water restrictions.
Longing for my home to be green again, like it once was. 
 I pray for rain that never happens; follow up rain that never comes.
 So hard to see dark clouds drift overhead and think maybe this time, only to get a dry electrical storm where lightning strikes start fires.
Watering my home garden I still have love and family, and all the birds nearby. 

It is a place I see Welcome Swallows sun-baking on our roof, or taking in the view from my clothesline, surveying the dry valley below.

From my front door I could see a gang of cockatoos decorating a Cypress pine yesterday.
Screeching, I could hear them greeting the new morning, as they bit off small branches to sharpen their curved beaks. I stayed watching as they flew off through misty mountains.
 
And I’m living-
breathing in the scent of honey
from gum blossom,
where Little Lorikeets chirp
and gorge on pale lemon flowers.
A home where finches scamper over hard packed dirt to peck for insects, where Superb Blue Wrens play and Friar Birds cackle; where I’m serenaded by Magpies begging scraps.

 I’m living with a glimmer 
of hope for better times-
for steady rain 
to quench this earth;
making lush green grass
 grow as high as my chin.

I’d love to see our Angus cows
with coats glowing shiny black
as they graze the hills
feeding playful calves.


I want to gaze 
at the splendour of it all
how it used to be
before climate change.

My home place is the
space I love to bits.

A place full of the sweetest tweets
flying past in a blue blue sky.
A place packed with birds 
that save me from despondency-

where I still live in drought.

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