July 2015

Arts & Letters

Playing cricket at Wheatlands

By John Kinsella

An on-drive to the boundary the ball
going on and on through dust and dirt
on and on past the shed all the way past
the chook pen and on bouncing over
bark flaked and fallen from wandoos
and on over dried twigs and branches
and chunks of quartz – rose, milky –
on and on under the loosely strung fence
on and on over the dry ploughed ground
of the “new” pig yard on and on uphill
gathering speed against gravity perpetual
motion itself on and on over firebreaks
past pig melons the only green hugging
the ground in mid autumn still hot
and the blond sheen of old stubble
though behind the wicket some deeply
ploughed paddocks where brief rain
inspired prematurely and beyond
them the mysterious Needling Hills
with granites and roos and markings
telling stories of country deeper
than survey pegs but back to the ball
which rolls on and on right over
contour banks at a tangent to the house-
dam with its velvet-rippled-baked-
mud walls and murky shallow eye
courtesy of those brief rains and on
up into the Top Bush where nest-robbers
inspired anger and bewilderment and
a children’s story starring all of us –
especially my cousin Ian (wicketkeeping)
and cousin Ken (first slip) ready
to take the catch when I surprised them all
by driving the ball a bit on the up but still
on and on past the demon bowler
who was probably my brother Stephen
or my uncle Gerry – on and on scattering
a flock of pink and greys scrounging
for seed on and on past a pair of crows
eyeing off the body parts of small creatures
we can’t or won’t see and on and on
into the distant purple mountain
and through the setting sun and on
into night that will fall over all
our games fall on and beyond
the farm our field of play.

John Kinsella
John Kinsella is a poet, novelist, critic and editor.

July 2015

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