Stirrup iron to stirrup iron
They rode the dusty track,
She sat upon the dapple grey
He rode the fiery black.
They pushed along at a faster trot
To beat the fading light,
Behind them lay thirty miles
Of running from the night.
The haunting thoughts of dark events
Seemed to lurk close all day,
In the urgent beat of the horse’s feet
On the dry and stony clay.
But oh! how a man’s heart
Can turn him far away
From what he knows is right
And how he finds his way
When in a moment of beating pride
He throws his weight around,
To break and bust his very world
And leave a man on the ground.
While she is caught in a rushing stream
Of regrets and hopes and fear,
The long dusk shadows wheel them on
Through the tall, dense forests so near.
The horses seem caught in the very mood
And hardly show the strain
Of pushing hard the whole day long –
The black still leans on curb and chain.
He knows the country pretty well
From working stock and plant,
As a keen, young, blonde-haired bloke
In old Mac’s mustering camp.
As now they climb the Snowgum ridge
The horses show the foam,
And they push along the old wing fence
Where the bucks were turned for home.
It can’t be far to that sheltered hollow
And to the bleached and leaning hut
By a spring-fed mountain stream
Where the long day’s ride will cut.
In a moment of feeling free and wild
From the burden of his trials,
He gives the black his fiery head
And puts him at the rails.
But the spring in his horse is nearly done
And he clips the top of the fence,
To land in one big messy heap
Of man and leather and beast.
And now, in her own good time,
Her thoughts return to where he lay.
It may be fifty years down the track
But it still takes her breath away.
For even now she feels the passion
As she sits in an old cane chair,
Dappled by the golden grapes
In the cool verandah air
While in the yard the boisterous kids
Romp with the dogs at play,
And together with the old grey woman
Enjoy their youth’s bright day.
"Words are clumsy pretenders of the images of my mind."
As a practicing artist I have travelled far and wide across Australia, walked on country, camped on country and rolled out my swag. I thank the custodians and I acknowledge the traditional owners of country throughout Australia and their continuing connection to land, culture and community. I pay my respect to Elders past and present.