As our State of NSW (here in Australia) continues to burn, we remember all those who are fighting fires. We remember those who have lost homes, property and livelihood. As we experience all of this, I was reminded of a poem that came to me some months ago. It was based on two experiences. Firstly, visiting a farm at Beckom and beholding the vista it offered. Secondly, hearing of the local bushfire brigade responding to a serious collision between two semi-trailers on the Newell Highway at Beckom.
In the chill of winter,
When the fog comes sinking down;
As the blades of crop
Poke through the frost coating on the ground;
Morning comes to Beckom
And the farming families around.
Around they gather at their tables,
With breakfast to get through the day;
As they watch the sun rise upon their land
And prepare to meet the fray.
The hills give them undulation
On their stocked and grain-sown plains;
After sowing there’s celebrations,
When their dams are full from rains.
They tend the Newell Highway
When the traffic comes to stop;
And will lead you down safe byways
When the firies replace the cops.
For those bush firies
Try their hand where o’er their needed;
When the scrub blazes round the paddocks,
Or the highway presents the bleeded.
They toil in death and devastation
Dust and floods and smoke;
They pour out generosity before reservation,
They can be serious or joke.
Then they return to their families,
Lock up the chooks,
And kiss their kids.
Then it might be time for bills and books
Before they lie down and close their lids;
Their lids over eyes been wizened
From many a light of dawn and dusk;
To sheep lying dead in paddocks,
Or grain rotten in its husk.
From farewells to their old characters,
Or those far too young to die;
From when dust blows away their topsoil,
To raging torrents from the sky.
They gather at the Beckom Pub
After a game of bowls elsewhere;
Or may find a Church or civic do
Within the Beckom Hall there.
Lunches in the park
Have been known for hours long;
As long as beer and food will last,
And if the summer sun’s not too strong.
As we look across the paddocks
Of the green rising through the soil;
Beckom silos stand in sentinel,
To Beckom farmers’ toil.
When you drive along the Newell,
Remember to tip your hat;
For the stories of our dear ones,
Are housed along those hills and flat.
Simon C.J. Falk
25 June 2013.
Beckom rest area near the site of the semi-trailer collision.