A Fish Out

A fish out of water slaps
for the wet familiar
as first rainbow gasps
for all colour beneath
evergreen eucalypts

and boy becomes hunter.

White flesh in the pan
rainbow now grey;
a dull eye pops in the fat.
The first meal of camp

“We’re all about survival”
says the voice from the beard.

In that first howling night the tent holds no echo:
a cocoon of down
muffles the want of a scream
for mother’s goodnight.

Terrain is now is real and not just a geography lesson.

When morning arrives
relief and sunlight slap awake
the face of survival.
Mosquitoes frustrate the zippered gauze, march-flies marshal to march.

Wisps of gum-smoke, the smell of the wild, steam from hot-streams on tussocks, beans in the pannikin, dust in the billy, leaves of tea and gumtree chase the boil.

Longer walk today; boots even more ready for rubbing off skin.

Fourteen miles to the next creek and next water.
Ache in the pack
No rest only winter.
The dingo pads on.
Wild boar root en mass. Wombats rummage the banks.
Wallabies thump up the ridge-line.

“We’ll circle our tent-line and raise tonight’s fire after dark.”
Says the beard and walks on.

The hunter
Seeks now no quarry
Dreams the snap of a soft sheet
and mouths words
for the water of home.

MChallis © 2014