Our Corrugated Iron Tank by James Hackston (Hal Gye)

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Our tank stood on a crazy stand,
Bare to the burning sun,
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,
And 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 all 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 and hands,
Waste was a wicked thing,
There in the baked and parching lands,
With hope our only spring.

Next came the fatal "One rung left!"
(How cruel words can be!)
As we all stood for joys bereft,
Dumb in out 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 we filled the tank again!
We felt as if we'd riches won,
That life again was sweet;
And overjoyed then, everyone,
We even washed our feet!

First published in The Bulletin, 12 December 1956;
and later in
Favourite Australian Poems edited by Ian Mudie, 1963; and
Old Ballads from the Bush edited by Bill Scott, 1987.

Author reference sites: AustlitAustralian Dictionary of Biography

See also.

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This page contains a single entry by Perry Middlemiss published on December 12, 2012 8:02 AM.

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