Marty Smith

A mile here, a mile there

Nodding in the sun, our long reins loose,
we move just faster than a man can walk
on a metal road, a mile here, a mile there
idly we see how the rotting goes
in the bloated sheep in the slow cold creek
gracefully floating the algae aside.
We go by hebe, by lacebark, lancewood
by our family reserve—we have guns
and we know how to use them—
bush lawyer, five fingers wave us on
along the long mile, either way
crunching stones with metal shoes.
A sudden sun, a breeze lifts the leaves
of clematis, it breathes, we breathe
its papery flowers. Dad whistles
up warbler and bellbird, who sound
around us in huge clear air
echo, quicksilver silvery birds.
The creek sings along, banks and swirls
bubbles deep into milky dark. Oh,
eel thoughts slide along our sides.
The horses’ heads nod and rise in step
so humming, I poke my brother’s pony
with the end of my stick to make it kick.

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