‘Australian Heartland’ (A Poem)

Excerpt from Laina Faul’s personal blog “Thoughts From Laina.”  Laina is a Spring 2016 ASC student from Belhaven University. Reproduced with permission.

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Charleville, Queensland, Australia | Photo by Sierra Tinsley

Australian Heartland
by Laina Jo Faul

She is a silent beautiful.
Thick-skinned and harsh,
bootstraps and tracks,
hot-iron branded,
She looks good in leather,
makes rugged fashionable,
and has so many hidden talents,
discovering them all is a talent in itself.

During the day,
She paints you in red dust,
invites you to experience her
fully.
Flies colonize your shirt back and
tell secrets in your ears.
Roos bound through low brush;
the Bush comes alive.
Cattle roam as the Ute engines roar;
dust clouds envelope the road.

At night,
the ground folds into sky
full of constellations I don’t recognize.
A whisper
a wish,
falls from the stars.
I wake to a risen moon,
wander back into dreamless sleep
and do not wake again
until first light.

Night air retreats,
makes way for rising sun’s heat,
the Cattleman already hard at work.
She shows him the way,
gives and takes;
She reminds him it is not his land.
She is Life and Death,
hope and regret,
the river in flood and drought.
Her trees are old,
her soil older.
We only know
what she reveals.

I,
a pilgrim,
a wanderer in this place,
came to her unknowing,
willing to taste her tastes.
She left satisfaction in my gut,
but a longing in my throat
to know the heart of home land
the way she wants to be known.

 

Last week we spent several days in Charleville, Queensland. The vastness of the land is difficult to fathom. The way life is sustained within a harsh environment is astonishing. There is unexpected beauty everywhere. Most of Australia’s population lives in its major cities, which are primarily coastal. Even so, most of the continent is bushland. Much of the country is the Outback, and even though most people do not live there or have spent any significant time there, it is part of the Australian identity.

Spring outback _22

Outback sunset at Charleville, Queensland

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