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MARTIN R. JOHNSON


Daughters & C.W.


Driving past the rusty red door
of a farmer's truck,
I read
these faded letters
below the shirtsleeve rolled up
an old arm.

There's something about
the weather-beaten and
drooping hat
hiding
the driver's face
that lingers in my mind
long after the truck had vanished
from out the car's rear-view
mirror.

I wonder about his daughters ...
Grown up now with
husbands and lives of their own,
the itch of hay gone
from their skins, callouses
from a tractor's steering-wheel
disappeared in the sink,
smell of sheep
faded out their clothes, faces
gone soft
from watching tv shows.

Or are they still out there, shooting
glances towards the gate, impatient
for their dad?

Night is coming on ...
Like swerving to miss
a kangaroo
caught in the bright glare
of the car's head lights,
I steer clear of the possibilities.

A woman's grim countenance
empty of happiness.
The thickness of boredom
worn smooth as apathy
on the surface of a brain
dull to the pleasure that swaggers
through the city streets
beyond the barbed wire of paddocks
that house her life.

From where sheep escape
and find solace
in the slaughterer's knife.