Elly McDonald


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

Australian-born, with English mother, has lived in several Australian cities and in London. Travelled widely. Way way back when, published widely as a poet and short story writer.

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