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The Drought

by / Sunday, 19 September 2010 / Published in Poetry

The Drought – by Lorna Madson

When the rain doesn’t come when it ought to,

You start hand feeding the sheep,

The grain and hay you’d stored away,

And the dams don’t look as deep.

As the weeks drag slowly by,

And there’s still no sign of rain,

Things get worse each time you look,

And you’re running out of grain.

Once healthy sheep are starving to death,

Or getting stuck in the mud at the dam,

The paddocks resemble a graveyard,

And you’ve lost your last prize ram.

The dams dry up and the mud all cracks,

The paddocks move in dust,

Why has the season dealt this blow?

It seems so damned unjust!

The bank starts getting nervous,

No income they can see,

A special trip to town you take,

To make a final plea.

You struggle on for a few more months,

And when  all else seems lost,

You realise to get out now,

Would hardly cover the costs.

And then one night just after tea,

You hear the first big drops,

It smells terrific on the hot dry ground,

And you hope it never stops.

You can almost hear it soaking in,

The paddocks come alive,

For the first time in months, without the gun,

Around your paddocks you can drive.

It trickles down the catchments,

Into the waiting dams,

Feed starts to shoot and birds reappear,

You can once again start making plans.

A drought must be the most heartbreaking thing,

A farmer ever has to endure,

To look on helpless as everything dies,

Of the rain he can never be sure.

But this is the gamble a farmer takes,

To rely on the sun and the rain,

It’s to this life he’s born and bred,

And he’ll suffer it again and again.

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