em = By John Queripel
[In last week's issue, we accidentally omitted the last line of John Queripel's poem. This is the full text.]
It's a bloody big land this Australia
With its great wide brown barren plains.
For hour after hour we fly and the landscape's still the same
"Is it any different now?" she asks.
"No, just the same."
and looking out the window I see
the lines of creases
in this ancient crust running horizon to horizon,
the emptiness, the vastness of this land
by broiling sun baked hard.
"Who could survive?"
"How'd they live?"
"You'd be dead, dehydrated in a day down there."
She's an alien land, a strange land
a land I've never met, this dry and dusty land
but her stories are rich and plenty
from the Pitjantjatjara, the Gurindji,
from Lawson and Banjo Patterson.
But I've not felt her sweat upon my brow
nor her dust in my eyes
so these stories, these myths which give her meaning
to me, safety cocooned in a seaside
remained closed ... a mystery
To well ordered nice green settlements I hearken.
Two more hours and then we'll be disgorged into
the teeming Sydney mass.
And I look out my window again and watch
The landscape change
to a more pleasant greener shade.