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Anthony Burge

(16/06/1962 / Australia)

Drovers Dog

I watch the mob as they amble on by

On bent crooked legs glassy dark chocolate eyes

Choreographed in synch turn on cue with the flow

Lunging like baitfish as one to and fro

Heads bent to hoof scan the rut that they course

Sweet sweat scented flanks unmistakably horse

At the crack of a whip heads raised they take fright

Paint stallion leads as they launch into flight

Dance rust coloured cloud split hooves shuffle dust

As one turn on heel in the mob they now trust

Twitched fly covered rump, slashing switch of their tails

Pivots on point as if mounted on rails

Beneath sweaty felt hat under tangerine sun

Glides a leather skinned drover his horse on the run

Silently shadowed at heel by red dog

As one part machine both are integral cogs

Black sweat beaded forehead shaded by brim

Of rabbit skin hat with a furred leather trim

Tattered hat raised in the crook of bent hand

Allows his steed lead as she shunts across sand.

She follows the mob as if tuned to sixth sense

They twitch and switch course plaited muscles strung tense

Standing tall in the stirrups on the balls of his feet

Slight shift in the saddle with the flow set to fleet

The drover by thigh leans into his ride

Follows her lead as she props and then slides

Not missing a beat gathered tangle of legs

With swivel of hips and a toss of her head

Flared nostrils snort, foaming froth at the bit

Lathered in sweat on mobs trace she now flits

Whistled back his red-dog tracks to round up a stray

For the working dogs life is all work and no play

With a flick of his wrist drover cracks plaited whip

Frayed leather snaps back against tightly bound tip

They funnel the mob to split log-crooked race

Cantering as one at a crackling pace

Paint rears protesting drovers traitorous horse

It was she cornered the mob and kept them on course

Swept through race one by one they now trot

Ears flit back and forth as they shy at their slot

Red-dog at hoof awaits sign from the drover

As he dismounts his horse, bolts the gate now its over.

Squared away and penned up the mob school together

Rumps to the rail, heads bowed to the heather

Soft whiskered lips pursed to drink at the trough

Glassy dark amber eyes swivel down then aloft

Working dog comes to rest at drovers dusty heel

Having worked hard all day for the price of a meal

Till later that night near the swag by the fire

A scratch under chin as the drover retires

Beneath a speckled sky on a moonless night

She beds down one eye open to await morning light

Submitted: Saturday, April 06, 2013
Edited: Thursday, October 10, 2013

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