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Feb 15
He was short and lean,
a small man,
station hand and bush jockey.
I’ve known him since childhood
when he was in the children’s home
where my parents worked.

At fourteen
he returned to the bush
to work with his father,
also a station hand,
out on the desert plains
where holdings are large,
measured in thousands of square kilometers.

We never deliberately kept contact,
just crossed paths
when he was “down south”
or I was “out bush”.

Eventually he retired
to a small bush town,
established to service
the highway
across the centre of Australia
from south to north.

I’d see him there when in the bush,
in the bar of the roadhouse.
Sometimes we’d have a beer together,
others I’d just watch him,
sitting on a stool
at the end of the bar,
surrounded by the young stockhands
in town for a break.

But he’s gone now.
Sickness came and eventually death.
They buried him in the country he loved,
out by the cattle yards and race track –
a patch of red dust,
a simple wooden cross,
a low stone wall,
a vase and a whiskey bottle, both empty.

I’ve visited him there
and remembered.
"Stations"/"Ranches" and more - making my way around differences between American and Australian terminology.
John Wiley
Written by
John Wiley  81/M/Australia
       L B, Stephen E Yocum, vb and Imran Islam
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