The old house looked pathetic as it crouched upon the hill No sign of habitation, it was dozing, quiet and still The grey stone walls were crumbling, and the window panes were smashed; the wire-strand fence was twisted, and the rusty roof was gashed. It made me feel despondent when I felt its sad despair, but as I turned to walk away, soft voices called me there.
Was it imagination? Did I hear the old house call? Did children’s laughter echo from the long-deserted hall? Those shadows at the window – were they ghosts from long ago? Or were the gentle breezes causing memories to flow? My family were the people who once lived upon this land; those wonderful old pioneers who’d built this station grand.
Here’s where I spent my childhood when that house was just a shack; Two bedrooms and a kitchen and a bough shed out the back where Mum would do the washing, and then all us kids as well; on chilly winter mornings, oh, you should have heard us yell as we were scrubbed from head to toe with bars of Lysol soap; to dodge the day’s ablutions, we just never had a hope.
Our family lived by Holy Rule, no other law applied; we owed allegiance to God, then husband to his bride. And we were taught that kith and kin came first without a doubt, that friends and neighbours got respect, from boss to rouseabout. At night we’d sit and read our books in golden lantern light, while frenzied moths died horribly in kamikaze flight.
I hated work upon the farm; those endless, dreary chores of milking cows and feeding chooks, then tending to the bores. Of clearing land and carting rocks, of ploughing sandy soil, I thought I’d find much better work than endless, thankless toil. And so I rolled my swag one night, and left without a care; I never saw this place again; I wandered everywhere.
And now I’ve come back to my roots and tears are falling free as from the shadows’ depths I hear my loved ones calling me. I feel a hand upon my face and hear a gentle sigh, I know my mother’s standing here, and I begin to cry. Oh, how I wish I’d never gone to chase a pot of gold, when all the riches of this earth were mine within this fold.