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Maureen Clifford © The #ScribblyBark Poet
We’re tough Bushmen here, none are sissies – we’ve seen and done the odd hard yard.
We’ve battled the drought, flood and fire – where the landscape is always left scarred.
Old Pat was a larrikin drover – he could ride and could ring with the best,
but every bloke here had a tear in his eye as we laid our old cobber to rest.
‘Wrap me up in my blanket and lay me, near the creek where the Butcher bird calls.
You can say a few words if you want to, if you don't it won’t matter at all.
My life has been blessed with bright sunsets, though with romance perhaps a short fall.
I've always lived life to the fullest and offered my friendship to all.’
So we laid him to rest as he wanted. His mates came from far and from near.
We gathered at dawn round the campfire, and sat round and yarned with a beer.
The sun slowly rose o’er the mountains and we all bowed our heads as we prayed.
Pat’s flea bitten heeler lay quietly. An old dog with a muzzle turned grey.
We’d gathered together some blossoms, nothing fancy, a gum branch or two,
with some wattle – the gold of our country – and some Paterson’s Curse – for the blue
of its tiny flower and its perfume, for the red we’d picked Prickly Pear
which in retrospect was just like Patrick – it seemed to pop up everywhere.
And we laid this rough corsage above him on the red soil that covered our mate
and each one of us stood there in silence, taking time no doubt to contemplate
how in this land a man’s worth is counted not by money or things that he owns
but by things he has done to help others, and for small sins he hopes to atone.
We said “Lord there’s a good mate here coming, along the last bush track to home.
Be a good bloke and meet him at the gate – so his last miles aren’t travelled alone.
On this earth, he had good mates a ‘plenty. His wrong doings...well there are a few.
So whilst we are sad that he's leaving, his soul we're commending to you.
Down here he’ll never be forgotten. He always had stories to tell.
On cold winter nights round the campfire we'll remember old Patrick as well.
We'll tell of a bushman and ringer, one who mustered along with the best.
He's a good friend, a cobber, a man’s man. Who's now heading to his final rest.”
And it seemed to us that the Lord listened – we were bathed in a beautiful light
and a rainbow appeared out of nowhere, suspended - with all colours bright.
There were magpies above us, their singing and their song was a joyful delight
and Old Man Kookaburra was laughing – and we reckoned for Pat that was right.
So we turned away, started to break camp – and I saddled up Pats horse, Red Ned
then I whistled to call the blue heeler from his vigil beside Pats last bed.
He looked at me – soft brown eyes puzzled, and he wagged his tail feeble and slow
and the look in his eyes just spoke volumes, they said ‘No way Mate can I go.
My master is here, I don’t know why you have covered him here with this earth.
But this is the place I must stay Joe for this bloke was the one saw my worth
when others had kicked and abused me, when others had left me for dead,
this bloke gave me life, gave me hope Joe – you go on, I’ll just wait here instead.’
Well there was no immediate hurry so I told the blokes that I might stay
a little bit longer to let the dog grieve and then I would be on my way.
I fancied I heard Patrick saying ‘That’s a good thing that you’ve done now Joe
for my old dogs days they are numbered and soon Mate he will have to go’
I knew it was a flight of fancy, for Patrick was no longer here
but I worried about his old blue dog . He would pine and then die was my fear.
But I figured I owed it to Patrick, for his horse and dog to do my best
and a day or two more spent here waiting– would give all of us time to rest.
But the time was shorter than I reckoned – Red Ned gave voice early next morn.
I leapt from my swag thinking Jesus it’s cold, for it was just piccaninny dawn.
Red Ned stood with chestnut head lowered; at his feet was his blue heeler mate
who had gone walkabout with old Patrick, left his body behind to its fate.
So once more I grabbed shovel and mattock, and beside Patricks fresh funeral mound
dug a hole not as big, for his heeler, that beautiful faithful blue hound.
And don’t laugh when I tell you this fellows – but a prayer I said there for the Blue
I commended his soul up to heaven saying ‘God - Pat named this bloke for you.
He reckoned God Dog would spook devils, and he reckoned he could muster clouds.
He always claimed Goddy would listen, to his prayers when he said them out loud.
Goddy was the loyalest mate ever and no better friend could he recall.
So be sure to watch over them both Lord – the big bloke and his mate Goddy Small.
see some scribbles here - http://scribblybarkpoetry.blogspot.com.au/