Make your own free website on Tripod.com

Her skin crackles in the
heat, like old parchment;
dust forms crusts in
its crevices.. Scabs
of toil, of drudgery.

Sun's rays pelt down,
ricochet, explode in
molten lead upon the
wash shed's iron roof;
an incubator for red-back
spiders, nest of snake eggs
snuggled in cracks
and crannies.

Arms elbow-deep in scum
and suds. The water too
is pitiless.

"Mummy! Mummy!
There's a dragon
in the garden!"
"Hush child.
go and play."

The beds at least
are made, the floor boards swept; the
firewood chopped
to light the cooking
fire when in ten
hours time
the sun is done.
The breakfast things
still wallow in the dish
gathering grease.
The tank is getting
low. No rain for months.
This washing water will
have to do all jobs.

"Mummy! Mummy!
there's a dragon
in the garden!
Come see!"

"Quiet child!

Too much to be done
by nine a.m.
before searing heat
renders the daily
list of chores
impossible.
Too much to be done
to bother with
the fantasies
of a four year old.

Maybe old Bill will
keep his promise and
ride out to help me
fix the fence. Stop
the ruddy 'roos and
cattle getting in.
The dunny's full.
A hole must be dug
in hell-baked clay
and I have not the
strength. Not today.
Not today.

"Mummy! Mummy!
Come quick!
the dragon's on
the verandah!"

His sweet pitched shriek
pierces torpidity,
the day's agenda.
Flushed little face;
eyes bright with fear.
Excitement now jostles
with urgent tugs
on my pinafore.
"Okay.... Okay Sir Arthur.
Lead the way to Camelot.

"Oh my God! the gun!"
The outback woman's
Excalibur.
Steady. aim....fire!

The deed is done.
The dragon slayed:
A two feet writhing
metallic mat fringed
with a hundred legs.
Foot long feelers.
Iron jaws spewing poison
when clamped upon a limb.
Must have crawled from
'Deadi-bone Swamp's
'lignum forest:
a giant primeval
centipede
bearing death.

She sits for a moment
on the verandah step
Excalibur across
her knees.
She briefly lets
the thought of
Jack twink in her head
then eye-blinks
him out again.
She looks up at
the burning sky and mutters:
"Damn you Jack. Damn you."

Excalibur hanging limply
from her hand
she turns slowly...
back to the tin shed
and the wash stand.

From: 'The Ages of Woman'
By: Susi Johnstone (aka Ruby)
Many thanks for allowing me to share this piece with others.

"Almost Goodbye"

PREVIOUS***HOME***NEXT

INDEX