Closed off on their properties, satisfied
they’ve deleted language of prior ownerships,
they listen to the Queen’s Christmas broadcast,
wired through to the mains, connected
to broadband, spraying with GPS precision
when the rains come after Easter.
Behind the shire horse, in the wagon
with huge iron-banded wheels, they make
their way to school. They hear, on the tracks,
their future laments: Gladys, next to her
brother holding the reins, sees her shearer husband
struck down by lightning, and then her
second husband, town’s bank manager,
jailed for embezzlement. She wishes she could
have gone into the paddocks back when
stookers and their kids were doing the hay,
black kids who didn’t go to her school,
stuck out there on the reserve. She wishes
the joey taken from the pouch of the red roo
shot beside the rainwater tank, had lived,
suckled on powdered milk. “Pray for us,” she says.
John Kinsella’s most recent volumes of poetry are Peripheral Light: Selected and New Poems (W. W. Norton, 2003), Doppler Effect: Collected Experimental Poems (Salt, 2004), and The New Arcadia (W. W. Norton, 2005).