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The old house looked pathetic as it crouched upon the hill
No sign of habitation, it was dozing, quiet and still
The grey stone walls were crumbling, and the window panes were smashed;
the wire-strand fence was twisted, and the rusty roof was gashed.
It made me feel despondent when I felt its sad despair,
but as I turned to walk away, soft voices called me there.

Was it imagination?  Did I hear the old house call?
Did children's laughter echo from the long-deserted hall?
Those shadows at the window were they ghosts from long ago?
Or were the gentle breezes causing memories to flow?
My family were the people who once lived upon this land;
those wonderful old pioneers who'd built this station grand.

Here's where I spent my childhood when that house was just a shack;
Two bedrooms and a kitchen and a bough shed out the back
where Mum would do the washing, and then all us kids as well;
on chilly winter mornings, oh, you should have heard us yell
as we were scrubbed from head to toe with bars of Lysol soap;
to dodge the day's ablutions, we just never had a hope.

Our family lived by Holy Rule, no other law applied;
we owed allegiance to God, then husband to his bride.
And we were taught that kith and kin came first without a doubt,
that friends and neighbours got respect, from boss to rouseabout.
At night we'd sit and read our books in golden lantern light,
while frenzied moths died horribly in kamikaze flight.

I hated work upon the farm; those endless, dreary chores
of milking cows and feeding chooks, then tending to the bores.
Of clearing land and carting rocks, of ploughing sandy soil,
I thought I'd find much better work than endless, thankless toil.
And so I rolled my swag one night, and left without a care;
I never saw this place again; I wandered everywhere.

And now I've come back to my roots and tears are falling free
as from the shadows' depths I hear my loved ones calling me.
I feel a hand upon my face and hear a gentle sigh,
I know my mother's standing here, and I begin to cry.
Oh, how I wish I'd never gone to chase a pot of gold,
when all the riches of this earth were mine within this fold.

V.P. Read.    ©   1st Prize Scribblers Poetry Comp. 2007. + 2 commended awards.
Left broken by the racing track,
poor Possum was a crippled hack.
The owner sneered and left him there:
"The Knackery," without a care.

But no one took the horse away;
it struggled to survive each day.
A muddy creek ran through the field;
the arid ground scarce grass did yield.

Dad saw the racehorse left behind,
and seeing no one seemed to mind
he loaded him onto the truck
which was, for Possum, best of luck.

The horse was in an utter mess,
so cowed and beaten, sheer distress
was etched in every jutting bone;
Dad could not leave him there alone.

But time does heal, and Possum thrived,
and by the time we kids arrived,
the horse was frisky, fat and sleek,
no longer was his future bleak.

We'd all take turns to have a ride,
no saddle on his chestnut hide,
and he would gallop all let out,
while we'd hold on and madly shout.

In time we'd all go back to school
to learn about the Golden rule.
Dad told us Possum moped around;
he fretted with a grief profound.

He seemed to take a shine to me,
so calm and patient he would be.
In time I rode him like a pro,
and all across the land we'd go
When I was due, he knew the date,
was always watching by the gate.
Oh, how he gleamed in midday sun,
his brown eyes twinkling, full of fun.

They say that animals don't show
emotions, but it's just not so.
That horse conveyed his thoughts to me;
a loyal friend he'd always be.<

When Mother died, and tears were shed,
his gentle lips caressed my head.
I tell you, all my grief he knew,
and did what any friend would do.

He'd snicker comfort as I wept,
and all my deepest secrets kept.
We shared such deep comraderie;
that horse meant all the world to me.

When came the time to manhood grown,
I had to make a life alone,
and Possum knew he wouldn't see
another carefree year with me.

And so it was; he died that year;
the memories still bring a tear.
I feel somehow I let him down
because I had to work in town.

But when I come to visit Dad,
and think of times when just a lad,
I hear when nights are clear and still
his whinny calling from the hill.

The day will come when he and I
will gallop o'er the moonlit sky.
We'll both be young and spry again,
a horse and boy on Heaven's plain.

V.P. Read.   23/6/2006.