The Drover’s Wife
She stood at the door of their old slab hut,
Her once lovely face was lined with care,
At her side, along with their faithful old mutt
Were her three young children standing there.
Her husband a drover was heading out west,
She wouldn’t see him again for many a day,
All alone with her kids, it was always a test,
With sinking heart she watched him ride away.
It was a twenty- mile trip to the nearest shack,
An old shanty by the side of the road,
Might be months before her husband came back
And now all alone she would shoulder her load.
The heat of the day passed slowly away
When she took time out for a cuppa break,
Suddenly she heard one of the kids yell then say,
Hey mum come quick, there’s a snake.
Snatching up a stick that was standing near
She quickly raced anxiously out to the yard,
She yelled at the children to stand well clear
For her troubled heart was now beating hard.
Her ten- year old son with excited face
Stood pointing at the hole beneath the wall,
It slid in there ‘neath the slab floor base
He exclaimed, as she ran to his call.
Grabbing the children, she forced them back
And told them all to stand well clear,
In the sand she could see the reptile’s track
And her worried face welled up with fear.
In a saucer she placed a few drops of milk,
She was hoping to entice the reptile out,
Having a fervent dread of snakes and their ilk
But she would kill it with never a doubt.
The sun was starting to sink in the west
When she finally took the children inside,
She knew for herself there’d be no rest
Until that cold- blooded creature had died.
On a table that stood on the kitchen floor
With rugs & pillows the children were placed,
Safety was something she could not ignore,
As this nerve- racking problem she faced.
She knew that the snake was lying in wait
‘Neath the bush slabs of the old living room,
Only time would now tell of its eventual fate,
She was overcome with a feeling of gloom.
More wood on the kitchen fire she piled,
A flickering candle was placed in the hall,
The battle light in the dog’s eyes grew wild,
As he warily watched the hole in the wall.
On the table top slept her three little boys
While her lonely night vigil she spent;
When ever there arose an unusual noise
Rusty would stare at the wall with intent.
To protect those boys was her mindful duty
While all alone on that vast endless plain,
Toil had robbed her of a long gone beauty
That nothing could ever bring back again.
As she waited a plan she tried to devise
In these conditions that could only appall,
Then Rusty’s neck hackles started to rise
As he eagerly stared at the hole in the wall.
She knew by the dog that the snake was close
And she felt a slight nervous tremor of fear,
She watched transfixed and immediately froze,
As she saw two beady black eyes appear,
The snakes darting tongue was testing the air,
Then slithered forward this cold blooded thing,
Rustys’ only movement was his rigid back’s hair
But at the right moment he was ready to spring.
The snake from the slab was now a foot clear
When it suddenly sensed the danger at hand,
In a flash it put its head in a hole that was near,
Its tail whipping round like a cut rubber band.
Rusty sprang forward and grabbed at the snake
His jaws snapping shut like the jaws of a trap,
Nothing on earth could that savage grip break
As he slowly pulled the snake from the gap.
The woman moved in with her raised up club
Hitting down on the snake’s stretching back,
Rusty was pulling as if you’d stretch out a grub
And out came a five foot red-bellied black.
Thud thud, thud thud, its back was now broke
And old Rusty shook it like shaking a rat,
To make sure it was dead she gave it a poke
And then gratefully gave old Rusty a pat.
The fire died away in his bright yellow eyes
For snakes in him raised a formidable ire,
Picking up the snake, her relief no disguise
As she threw and watched it burn in the fire.
Her eldest sun stood in his worn tattered shirt
And gazed at a woman quite vacant of mirth
And though she was dressed in an old ragged skirt
He thought she was the greatest mother on earth.
He said I’ll never go droving, it’s a thing I detest
And with emotion she was unable to speak,
She clutched tight her son to her worn out breast
And tears fell unhindered down her old weathered cheek.