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Mabel Forrest

(1872-1935 / Australia)

The Lonely Woman


WHERE the ironbarks are hanging leaves disconsolate and pale,
Where the wild vines o’er the ranges their spilt cream of blossom trail,
By the door of the bark humpey, by the rotting blood-wood gates,
On the river-bound selection, there a lonely woman waits,
Waits and watches gilded sunrise glow behind the mountain peak,
Hears the water hens’ shrill piping, in the rushes by the creek,
And by the sullen stormy sunsets, when the anxious cattle call,
Sees the everlasting gum-trees closing round her like a wall.
With the hunger of her bosom notes the wild birds seek their mates,
All alone and heavy-hearted, there the lonely woman waits.

Where the tall brown city buildings loom against a cloud-flecked sky,
Where along the curving tramlines brightly varnished cars rush by,
Where the call of petty traders echoes down the dusty street,
And forever comes the beating of the many passing feet,
Where the bamboo reeds are whispering by the green park’s iron gates,
By the muslin-curtained window, there a lonely woman waits.

Where the white caps lash the sea-wall, and the great waves thunder by,
Where the grey rains sweep the beaches underneath a sodden sky,
Where the swift-winged gull flies landward, and the fisher bides at home,
When the long Pacific reaches are a seething stretch of foam,
Where the empty boat drifts seawards, by the ocean’s sand-flanked gates,
In the weather-boarded cottage, there a lonely woman waits.

Where the river boats are calling, where the railway engine shrieks,
Or where only wild bird liltings echo from the reedy creeks,
Where the grey waves grieve to landward, and a wet wind beats the seas,
Or where pearl-white moths flit slowly through the dropping wattle-trees,
By the high verandah pillars, by the rotting bloodwood gates,
Crowded town or dreary seaboard, everywhere some woman waits!

Submitted: Thursday, January 01, 2004

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