Rainwater Tank by Les A. Murray

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Empty rings when tapped give tongue
rings that are tense with water talk:
as he sounds them, ring by rung,
Joe Mitchell’s reddened knuckles walk.

The cattle dog’s head sinks down a notch
and another notch, beside the tank,
and Mitchell’s boy, with an old jack-plane,
lifts moustaches from a plank.

From the puddle that the tank has dripped
hens peck glimmerings and uptilt
their heads to shape the quickness down;
petunias live on what gets spilt.

The tankstand spider adds a spittle
thread to her portrait of her soul.
Pencil-grey and stacked like shillings
out of a banker’s paper roll

stands the tank, roof-water drinker.
The downpipe stares drought into it.
Briefly the kitchen tap turns on
then off. But the tank says Debit, Debit.

 

Source: The ABC Book of Australian Poetry: a treasury for young people compiled by Libby Hathorn (ABC Books 2010)

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