The spendthrift, disinherited and graceless,
accepted his pittance with an easy air,
only surprised he could escape so simply
from the pheasant-shooting and the aunts in the close;
took to the life, dropped easily out of knowledge,
and tramping the backtracks in the summer haze
let everything but life slip through his fingers.
Blue blowing smoke of twigs from the noon fire,
red blowing dust of roads where teams go slow,
sparse swinging shadow of trees no longer foreign
silted the memory of a greener climate.
The crazy tales, the hatter’s crazy secrets
the blind drunk sprees indifferently forgiven,
and past them all, the track to escape and nowhere
suited his book, the freak who could never settle.
That pale stalk of a wench at the county ball
sank back forgotten in black Mary’s eyes,
and past the sallow circle of the plains’ horizon
faded the rainy elms seen through the nursery window.
That harsh biblical country of the scapegoat
closed its magnificence finally around his bones
polished by diligent ants. The squire his brother,
presuming death, sighed over the documents,
and lifting his eyes across the inherited garden
let a vague pity blur the formal roses.
—Judith Wright (1915–2000)