Cyclone Bola

Prompt: Winter is here and you are now trapped.

The paddocks were sodden,
each hoof print a puddle that
rippled and overflowed with every
driblet of water that fell from stony skies.

The excess swept over the grass,
blades bent beneath the heavy weight,
and slowly the water forged a path
down the hill.

A deluge the colour of clay,
with the unmistakeable fragrance of
cow shit and mud,
poured across the gravel road
just below Prior’s farm
in a rush to reach the swollen creek
which had long breached its banks.

Avid eyes and bright smiles watched
from the safety of the farmhouse windows,
because we knew the school bus
would never get through.

And Mum worried about practical things
as Dad shifted stock to higher grounds,
but at least the water tank was full.

Childhood Memories of a Younger Sister

Tiny gumboots
plodding ’round the paddocks,
each sun-kissed freckle testament
to another adventure,
Puppy scampering at your side.

Catching tadpoles in the dam,
each tiny captive carefully transported
to the water trough
nearest the house.

Morbid curiosity when
the mobile butcher visits.
No pampered city kids.
Witness even to the miracle
of a new calf born
on Hancock’s farm,
just behind the haybarn.

Hand reared lambs,
tails spinning madly as
they suckle greedily on the teat.
Misty, Pebbles, and Bam Bam.
Calves that slurp and slobber
over outstretched fingers.

Dusty bike rides down gravel roads
to Tomarata Lake
for a swim with no parental supervision.
Carefree fun,
but you soon emerge with blue lips
and shivering limbs,
to bake under the summer sun.

Trying to catch eels
off the old bridge,
and training
for cross country
in a circuitous loop.

Hiding in the toetoe bushes,
sharp blades of grass a warning
not to linger.
The bobby calf pens
make sturdier huts,
but the hay bales in the barn
are more comfortable still.

You loved playing with
the high pressure hose,
gleefully clearing the muck
from the cowshed.
But better yet was sitting,
nattering,
on the cowshed roof
or on the top of the water tank.
Sitting in the loquat tree,
stuffing our faces until our stomachs groaned
and Mum told us off
for ruining our appetites for dinner.

Hiding on the trampoline from
a wayward sheep
intent on butting us all into next week.
Carefully watching snorting bulls
from behind the safety of the fence.
The big orange hereford
gave us the willies.
Trespassers welcome,
the bulls will charge you later, the sign said.
Carefully walking the boards
at the cattle yards,
listening to the auctioneer prattle
while we eyed up the meanest cattle.

A day in the saddle,
riding out to Lawrence Road,
comfortable,
companionable.

Lying on our backs
in the verdant grass,
listening to the cows
chew the cud,
and dreaming
of distant days.

Dusty Memories

Memories float like whispers,
tattered dreams of distant times.
An echo of childish laughter
trips down towards the creek.

The thump of the pump in the old tin shed
laid to rest in a rusty bed.
The gurgle of the creek calls me on,
tempting me,
the forgotten allure of Marmite and watercress sandwiches.

The hay barn where dust motes
danced in shafts of light
and the old abandoned cowshed –
gone.
Destroyed on a path to progress.

But in my dreams, a little girl
who looks a lot like me
still searches for goose eggs to take home for Mother
and sits in the feijoa tree
and dares the world to steal her dreams.