C.J. Dennis Associated Material

OUR CORRUGATED-IRON TANK by James Hackston (Hal Gye)

Our tank stood on a crazy stand,
Bare to the burning sky.
White-hot as glares the desert sand,
And dismal to the eye.
Its lid was like a rakish hat,
The tap bent all awry
And with a drip so constant that
It almost dripped when dry.

It was a most convenient tank Wherein most things could fall; Where snakes came from the bush and drank, The rabbits used to call, The mice committed suicide, The gum-leaves sank to rest, And in it possums dropped and died And hornets made their nest.
But stark within my memory I see it once again When we looked at it anxiously Days when we hoped for rain; I hear the hollow sounds it made, Like some prophetic drum, As I tapped rung on rung, afraid Of dreadful days to come.
When mother in despair would pray As low the water sank; Four rungs, three rungs, two rungs and, aye, How miserly we drank; And there was none for face or hands. Waste was a wicked thing, There in the baked and parching lands, With hope our early spring.
Next came the fatal "One rung left!" (How cruel words can be!) As we all stood of joys bereft, Dumb in our misery: And then I tapped the tank in pain - Those knells of drought and doom: Our tank at last gone dry again, Our home cast down in gloom.
But, oh, the joy that filled our hearts When came the bounteous rain And the drain-pipe sang in fits and starts And filled the tank agin! We felt as if we'd riches won, That life again was sweet; And, overjoyed then, everyone, We even washed our feet!

Bulletin 12 December 1956, p29

'James Hackston' was the pseudonym of Hal Gye.

Copyright © Perry Middlemiss 2002