It is difficult to comprehend it is over a year since my holiday in the north to a remote outback cattle station in the East Kimberley region. The thought of a very ‘rustic’ environment where crocodiles, lizards and snakes are prolific was easily overcome because I know the landscape. It is awe inspiring. I joined a group of writers. All strangers. I hadn’t written and shared my work face to face with an audience for over 17 years, following the loss of my writing buddy. So I didn’t expect to write anything. Why would I, I reasoned. The anonymity of blogging was satisfying a deeper need in me. But I looked forward to the experience of the East Kimberley. And, I, who flinches at the sight of a tiny gecko, wanted to test my mettle in this harsh environment.
One night I lay in the ‘rustic’ cabin listening to the sounds of the outback. Something in me came alive. I allowed the previous days of writing with strangers, now intimate strangers, to flood my senses. I wrote this after sleeping in a tent in a very remote area, on the banks of the King River, where the eyes of a crocodile glowed at dusk. The brolgas called in the distance. I knew they danced under the stars. My heart heard their music. The feeling of oneness with strangers in a stranger environment was complete for the city me. I opened up.
As the moon brightened the night,
I walked along the celestial bitumen
I saw stars there, signposts for travellers lost.
I saw stars in other places too, that only I could see.
Have I been lost? Did you leave them there for me?
As dawn unveiled the granite ridge
I saw a kapok tree, aglow, with yellow flowers on bare, brown branches
And at my door, emu and wallaby.
Child-like I spied on nature
clutching seedpods in my hand
held my breath watching blue dragonflies land
And, while passing travellers warned,
I experienced life at a billabong.
I walked down a dusty path, visible to you, not me
to Mother Boab tree
and at my feet, I found stars twinkling
where light and shadow meet.
I have been on a silent journey
This time, the million steps became one,
when I headed out in someone else’s footsteps
and returned in mine.
My fellow travellers, you were not to know
long ago, yet, like yesterday
Grief silenced me.
But in the barren night, alone, not alone
I found something glowed in the Kimberley
It was the stars
The ones you left for me.
Until next time
a dawn bird