for Lorraine and Tony
Not an expression of wealth but one of quiet desperation,
the heat and dry eviscerating hope – a giant shadehouse
of green cloth, and an above-ground keyhole
swimming pool, with avocadoes and ferns edging
the cement slabs, aura in the midday twilight.
And the red dust, too fine to shut out, decorating
the aqua-emerald waters, a wound open from an attack
of the inland leviathan, invisible as the filter strains
to remove impurities, leave pure as chlorinated amniotics,
and the dry birds squawking to be let in – shriek-caw-shriek.
Inland pool that was no waterhole, gnamma parody
down from the salmon gums and wandoos and pepper trees,
looking out over the sheep paddocks, the pig yards,
down onto the rat-tunnelled horse dam, out beyond the white-
walled house-dam of fated sailings, edge of the earth.
And this was in the Seventies, long before the rise
of pools on cocky properties, a nod towards a strong
swimmer, towards a childhood visiting the coast, a father
who loved the ocean. But there was a mother too, one
of the goldfields women who never learnt to swim.
Wheatbelt swimmers, wheatbelt pathfinders,
wheatbelt paradoxes carted in on the truck in riveted
steel cubes, brimming from standpipe flow; and then lesser
but regular cartings for ‘topping-up’. Record the volume,
pay up later. And all those kids travelling from far
afield, travelling to take a dip, frolic beneath the shadecloth
cathedral, bathe in the gothic font of swimming pool –
Australian crawl, breaststroke, frog-kick where the sun
denies the existence of amphibians, and dirt looks past
the sky for an opening through which rain might fall.