Elly McDonald

Writer

Northbound (1985)

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In summer, while tanned, blue-eyed girls in

white cotton frocks planned weekends on the yacht

(the harbour danced with white, teasing sails)

he went up north

a country boy, he’d shyly confess

no time for cultural gorgings, for opera

in the park – a backwoods poet

raised among canefields

Never been farther than Cairns:

such yearing – as soon as he’d had means

he bought a neck of river: his boast, his own

human clay, his land

of parakeets and snakes. As a child the sky

seemed uncontainable: horizons so wide, so far

out of reach

now, driving north, he sleeps alone

on the beaches at night

counts the stars, then, satisfied the sky

has not contracted, he softly hums

The restless rhythms of the car tune

his days, and he sings, low and gentle

as he never could down here

Author: Elly McDonald

Art lover. Loves her family and her dog. Worked in the Australian rock music industry as a journalist and published widely as a poet before moving to London and spending the better part of a decade in advertising agencies. Returned to Australia and briefly tried teaching, primarily teaching English to non-English speaking, newly-arrived refugees but also as a high school classroom teacher. Has travelled Western Europe, North Africa, Russia, Northern India, East Asia, coastal USA, some Pacific Islands, and Australia.

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