Dusk drive to Orange in the rain – the Cargo Road

Coming home again for Dad’s sixtieth
I leave the Canberra flat on a grey Saturday
to roll north through a thickening rain.

Hours later, as the car climbs the back of the tableland,
muddy water streams down the tattered road
and the potholes fill with milky tea.

Rags of cloud drift low over the orchards;
the town’s dusk lights wink in the next valley;
the bruised sky blots the mountain out.

I remember it in different weather –
the fires that scorched the mountainside
and left it bald for for years; the hail

that took the apple crop, but brought
a bumper year to every roofer,
set panel-beaters up for life;

the snows that cut off the Sydney road;
the plague of mice out west.
                                                              It’s strange
but even after twelve years gone

I can open the Central Western Daily
and know a face on the wedding page
or turn to the In Memoriam

and recognise a name. They’ve been
here all this time – anchored, it seems
in trades; the abbatoir; a child.

I, unencumbered, drifted off
to push my papers in another town.
I’ll never live in this place again.

Perhaps, time come, I’ll stay a month
to execute a will, and sell
the house – no more.
                                            But every year

when the car drops down the last long hill
on the Cargo Road, and the home-made signs
shout ‘CHERRIES FOR SALE’ in red and white

it feels a lot like coming home.

From Pushing thirty, wearing seventeen, Ginninderra Press, 2001

2 thoughts on “Dusk drive to Orange in the rain – the Cargo Road

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