The Big River by Steven Herrick


The big river

rolls past our town

at Hobson’s Bend,

takes a slow look

at the houses on stilts

with timber creaking, paint flaking,

at the graveyard hushed

in the lonely shade,

at the fruit bats

dropping mango pulp

into the undergrowth,

at the foundry, and sawmill

grinding under a blazing sun,

at the pub with welcoming verandahs

shaded in wisteria vine,

at Durra Creek surrendering

to the incessant flow,

at Pearce Swamp upstream

on the creek among the willows

and rivergum,

at the storm clouds

rumbling over Rookwood Hill,

at the two boys

casting a line

on the crumbling bank,

at the cow fields

purple with Paterson’s curse,

at the jammed tree-trunks

washed down after summer thunder,

at the shop

with dead flies in the window display,

at the mosquito mangroves

and the sucking sound of mud crabs,

at the children throwing mulberries

the stain like lipstick.

The big river

rolls past our town,

takes a slow look,

and rolls away.



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