The Babies of Walloon Award – Open Age Bush Poetry
One Good Year
by Kevin Pye
They rose en masse in pink and grey, all lifting on the breeze,
There might have been ten thousand there, invading his fruit trees.
"Those damn galahs," the old man cursed, his gun recharged to shoot,
"They'II ruin this year's crop by night-I'll never pick the fruit!"
The apricots were turning ripe, the market looking good,
The plum trees hung down low with weight, the branches propped by wood.
At last the season had been kind, the orchard some reward
And worth the cost of warfare on the bloody parrot horde.
Old Charlie summoned all his boys, back home from work and school,
Then armed them with a shotgun each and said, "Now here's the rule;
You'll keep both barrels open boys, until the flock moves in;
We'll all be firing north to south, when I kick this old tin.
Make sure you shoot above the trees and make each cartridge count;
We'll tally up at sundown and I'll bounty each amount
It's three years since I paid my tax, our income's in the red;
Your Mum and I both wonder how we'll keep the family fed.
If we can save the crop today, I'll repay those arrears,
The Sydney market hasn't seen such quality for years!
The Packham Pears are just the best, the Blood Plums full and firm,
The peaches and the nectarines are ripe, no sign of worm."
At some time in the past few months, the boys had toiled with Dad;
They' pruned the trees in symmetry, on spare days each one had.
They took a turn behind the plough, turned in the Springtime weeds;
Three solid sons of my Grand Dad, the kind a father needs.
Such stories don't emerge for years, from somewhere in my past
But anecdote and papers found, add credence very fast
And show me how my forebears loved as pioneers in their day,
As orchardists surviving, when they kept the birds away.
Each second day the trip to town, at dawn an early start,
Saw cases branded CHP, shipped off by horse and cart.
The steam train puffed away all night, south bound with special freight
That sold in Sydney all that week, for top price in the state!
The neighbours all around the farm, received their share of fruit,
With buckets of excesses free, recorded in repute.
In syrup they preserved so much, the ripe was cooked in pans
From recipes for old time jam, on stoves that looked like Gran's.
The promise of the granite soil and spring fed waterholes,
Had led the family to these parts to realize their goals.
They furrowed sods of virgin earth and fenced the place with wire
'TiI fortune turned around that year, when Charlie yelled out "FIRE!"