Artwork borrowed from Unsplash.com
Boundary Rider (from the corrugated tracks of the Australian outback)
I watch a dance in an old man's eyes,
a quivering tempo,
He sits in a wood-carved chair,
moisture settles on his brow from an afternoon mist
rolling in across coolabah country.
Despite his 90 odd years
his mind is as clear as the magpie's trill
plunking the gum trees outside his window.
The graphics on his face accumulate
from scarred choices and deep belly laughter,
he justifies the tremor in his hands from years
of grasping rope-twined halters.
His life has run in variable patterns
from the Great Depression to the Second World War,
the richness of poverty gilded a young coot's dreams—
weathered now / like the tuckerbag he once carried.
History and humour zoom from Narromine to Dandaloo.
He talks of a man
who cursed as only the Irish can,
and the phantom of Harry Hogan
by the crossing on the Bogan.
Sorrow and gladness spin in a whirly-wind
gathering momentum from the ballads he wrote
in the saddle riding fences.
Sacred recollections slide on the muddy banks
of the River Darling,
others drown in the flooded Barcoo.
He trips the ship-shod roads again in passive stillness,
content to receive the vivacity of recall.
The eye-dance flickers like a Chaplin movie—
a nostalgic encore
taking its final curtain.