~ No More Can I Recall ~

No more can I recall
How many times you called me home to sow and harvest
When out upon the breast of life
I walked or rode toward my foreign self
and still you called me
If even in a stranger tongue.

No more can I recall
My youth within your bower
Where war was child’s play
And nature was our master.
Where trees set sail upon the heat
Masts shimmering on horizon
And birds to roost were a tourniquet
For the sun to blaze west harder.

No more can I recall
Your winter’s shriveled flower
When cold night stabbed my naked body
And the moon froze all which the sun
Could never defrost in an hour.
But your summers burn still upon my skin
And I sweat only of your waters.

No more can I recall
The names or faces of your laughter
Your father, your wife, or the smile of your daughters
For never did I feel at ease
In the role of an outback farmer.

No more can I recall
When the pressure of time did wear us
And boys of sand became men of stone
In the unrelenting droughts
And we could not leave our work
For our work was our home.

No more can I recall
How many times I left the back verandah
To look up in the dead of night at all the stars that I slept under
Or how often I did open the gate
Or hear its cowbell sound behind me
As I walked back through the same scene change
That seasons changed thereafter.

No more can I recall
The times I shook hands ‘goodbye-hello’
Gave a hug or stole a kiss
As I left to follow my soul.
Or the letters and calls that grew apart as time itself grew distant
The laughter that rose or tears that fell
In the periphery of a whisper.

No more can I recall
The skin you took from me
Of knuckles bashed or forehead dinged
On machines that can’t write poetry.

No more can I recall
The dusty air of your ailing stockyards
Your life of sheep and love of cattle
And the dogs that hooked the calves
Or the last of the droving stockmen
The shepherds and their fold
Who live in drizabone and trailer
With fire against the cold.

No more can I recall
The setting dusk or broken dawn
The birds awake or cows come home
I can’t see those plains of old-

But looking at my face I know
That I came from the bush out Quambone way
And though my feet can’t stay
I know my heart is rooted there
And you know me
And always will
Recall me all the more.

Benjamin W Wild (c) 2015.

Audio- https://soundcloud.com/benjamin-wild/no-more-can-i-recall

* This poem was recently awarded 2nd in the Open Poetry section of the 2015 Banjo Paterson Writing Awards. ( http://www.cwl.nsw.gov.au/2015/06/22/2015-banjo-paterson-writing-awards-winners/ )

Nice to get some feedback from the judge too-
“This poem has a marvellous sense of form and movement to it.  The speaker is a man, a poet who has travelled a long way from the small rural town of his birth, seen many countries and built a life that is in many ways satisfying.
With the repetition of the same first line in every stanza the reader is led to expect that the poet is trying to free himself from his fading early memories, that it’s been too long…the call is getting weaker.  In fact with every new stanza there is a rebound of emotion which leads  to a more complex resolution and a very strong ending.
The play with conventional poetic language becomes part of the poem’s movement to a plainer truth, and at the same time reminds us, in a sparing way, of the beauty of lyric form and language of past centuries.”

Also published in R.M. Williams OUTBACK Magazine (June/July edition, 2018).

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