People mainly seem to be interested in one’s interactions with other people and I have none of those. My voice is rarely raised except when imploring the few clouds that drift over this god-forsaken place to squeeze out a drop or two of rain, or in imprecation at the wind when it whips up a day of red dust from the western desert.
Sometimes I fancy my vocal chords may wither away from lack of use. In the long winter evenings, I call the kelpie and we both crouch in front of the small pile of kindling in the hearth. He watches me and pants, as the kindling flickers into flame and licks around one of the logs I have chopped up and hoarded against the bitterness of the season. Wood of any size is scarce in this place of hard angled rocks, but a moderate walk will take me to a cleft in the hills where mallee scrub flourishes along a dried creek bed.
I set out the beacon then, even after all this time, in the odd hope that someone will return.
Usually I concentrate on what lies around me. In the shed, I have erected shelves to hold the myriad specimens I have collected over the years. Most of them go only under names I have invented. A drawing and a full description are carefully filed with each specimen. Of what use they may eventually be I don’t know.
They left provisions that could suffice for a hundred years. ‘You can have all of ours,’ they said, as they left. There are days I curse them for their consideration.
Through the split carved in the shingles that serves as a window, I can see movement along the horizon. What we once called a ‘murder of crows’ flaps furiously up from the scrub just where the rough track disappears from view. The kelpie pricks his ears and I pick up my shotgun.
trees on the far ridge
send smoke signals
Bio: Lynette Arden lives in Adelaide, South Australia. Her first poetry collection ‘A Pause in the Conversation’ was published in New Poets 15 (Friendly St Poets and Wakefield Press). She also enjoys writing short fiction.