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Buying the Rams

For Ross Dawkins

We did our homework
“Good rams – top figures,
Honest as the day is long”
They said…

But selling the stud
Lost his voice box,
Cancer, second try,
Reckon they’ve got it all
This time.”

“I’ve got Life!”
You whispered through the hole
In your throat,
Then smiled
As we wished you well,
And shook your hand
Hullo.

We did our business
As farming people do,
You writing
When we didn’t understand,
Then laughing and joking,
I on my knees in the race
Feeling nuts,
You working the draft.

After the business
We talked together
As farming people do,
Of your stud,
Untold work and toil
Six decades old,
Soon to be no more,
And of ours
Long since sold.

“Tradition is a wonderful thing”
I said,
“But there are two sides
To even the most precious coin!”

Your face lit up.

“I’ve got Life!”
You whispered
With a twinkle in your eye,
As I clasped your hand
Goodbye,
And didn’t want to let it go.

We drove slowly
Back to Gawler
“Bloody cancer!”
I said to Rose,
Fighting back the tears,
I hope they
Bloody well
Got it all this time…”

“I mean Christ
A hundred men
With half his courage
Strength, and grip on life,
Could easily rebuild the full length
Of the Great Wall of China!

“I’ve got Life!”
You said.
I felt so small and humble.

But early next morning
With my dog and motor bike,
I watched the first sunlight
Falling on our hills

And I knew –
I’d brought a little
Of your Life –

Back home with me.

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Tim Barritt. 1998.
Earth Angel 181