(header photographs by Harry Waite 1912-2011)

The Myth of the Sacred Brumby

 

 

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A Wild Blue Wander Poems by Colin Gibson published in 2000; sketches by Lloyd Jones.
A Wild Blue Wander
 
The air is oppressive; there isnít a breeze...
Youíre working a passageway Ďunder the treesí;
By pushing the brush with your forearms and knees
Through densely-packed thickets you manage to squeeze.
 
You emerge from the scrub through a Hakea hedge
And walk through a field full of sundew and sedge,
Till you come to a platform that slopes to a ledge
To peer over the side of its vertical edge.
 
And oh, what a sight for you scrub-scraping knaves,
You hard men and women and bush-bashing braves,
To see how this cool little streamlet behaves
With its sassafras shadows and under-cut caves.
 
There are coachwoods and vines in the theatre below
And mosses on slippery rock surfaces grow,
Whilst fronds in the ferneries wave to and fro
Over flowering orchids with names I donít know.
 
Come gurgling through the canyonís underworld gloom
That reminded George Caley of ultimate doom,
But donít queue in Claustral, thereís simply no room -
And whose are these bones, I wonder?
Count Strzeleckiís, I presume.
 
Go wander the labyrinths free of a rein:
With Bushwalker Dave youíll go like a train,
Youíll shout from the crags in the wind and rain
For the hills are alive, I need not explain.
 
Youíll look for the way down a Bob Buck pass
Improbable enough to be labelled a farce;
You follow it though, youíre as bold as all brass,
But if you think Max was Gentle... youíre not in his class.
 
Pieces of Places
 
My rucksack is packed
With the tell-tale traces
Of a wilderness filled
With far-flung spaces,
And its pockets are crammed
With pieces of places.
 
There are places in pieces -
Little fragments of each;
Thereís a water gum gully
And a river oak reach,
With canoes in the reeds
And tents by a beach.
 
Thereís a montane brook
With its hurrying gush,
There are caves in a cliff-line
And the thundery rush
Of a waterfall hidden
By the thickness of brush.
 
There are forests and fields
And boulder-topped mountains,
There are tangled-up ropes
In twisted-up canyons,
And smiles on the faces
Of my tired companions.
 
But I note youíre a sceptic:
That battered old pack
So tattered and torn
Is not fit for a back;
How on earth could I shove
Such a load in that sack?
 
Yet, though the bag sits
Unassuming and still,
Its humility hides
A phenomenal will,
For it carries the contents
Of valley and hill.
 
Yes, my rucksack is filled
With pieces of places,
With moon in the mallee
And fire-lit faces,
And all of the things
That my yearning embraces.
The Camp of the Clouds
 
My pack is loaded, Iím pounding the ground,
To the Camp of the Clouds my heels are bound:
Iím slogging that razorback into the sky
And kissing the doldrums a breezy good bye.
For itís gaiters and shoes,
Compass and map;
Iíll be cramped with the blues
Till Iím out of this trap,
So Iím setting my sail
Away from the crowds
For Iím taking the trail
To the Camp of the Clouds.
 
Up on the tops the cloudbursts pour
As the thunderstones rip, rack, rumble and roar;
The lightning-bolts smash the crags into clay,
Iím on top of the world ícause Iím heading that way.
The storm jockeys shout,
The stonehags hiss
As my hat flies out
Through the sullen abyss:
But Iím setting my sights
On that steepening grade
To the storm-broken heights
Where the clouds are made.
 
Now the headless riders are cracking their whips,
The storm stallions gallop madly over the cliffs;
In the Pit I hear Vulcan clanging his forge
And the Titans a-waring down in Tartarus gorge.
From an underworld vent
The hell hounds howl,
Theyíve caught wind of my scent
And are out on the prowl;
I defy them to catch me!
For no creature or force
Can shake me or snatch me
Away from my course.
Let mist-monsters bellow and swirl into space,
Let tempests, like harridans, howl in my face;
The wind-battered woodland explodes with debris-
Iíve clapped on the pace, are you coming with me?
The gales are attacking
And tearing at the ground;
Itís time to get cracking,
Letís not sit around,
So itís up with our packs,
We are leaving the crowds
For weíre taking the tracks
To the Camp of the Clouds