Uncollected Poems from The Weatherboard Cathedral by Les Murray

When I Was Alive

Before the coming of the endless town

When I was alive, it wasn’t far to go

To places where houses still stood well apart,

To places, indeed, where they stood so far apart

That from the highest hill you couldn’t see one.

The idea will be quite alien, I know.

Before the coming of the endless town

When I was alive, there were animals to see

And even trees, still living in our time:

Nothing much more than meat and wood to some,

To others a land extending far and down

To where the mind’s root stood in mystery.

And there were those who lived so far away

They never crossed the hills to any town.

When I was alive, it was possible to meet

Folk ill at ease in the simplest asphalt street

Who were on first name terms with Night and Day,

And even curt at times towards the Sun.

When I was alive and walked upon the earth

There were still seasons, if the term is known,

Fire and wind and all their ancient lore,

And many grew small and murderous as they saw

Water and darkness emptied of rebirth

Before the coming of the endless town.

via Uncollected Poems from The Weatherboard Cathedral by Les Murray.

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