Terra Australis


Terra Australis

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

air-conditioned city

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.

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