The shrieking gale slowed to a dying breeze.
Eastern rosellas, galahs and gang gangs
flocked to distant billabongs.
Canvas tents shieled elderly tourists
from the February oven.
In the village,
dog walkers paused on grassy islands.
Three year old Ben thought the’d tamed the kangaroos,
who’d emerged from the forest
to graze in the twilight.
“Are they circus kangaroos” he wondered
as they slipped through a barbed wire fence unscathed.
He didn’t ask Uncle Bertie,
who was famous for staring at half empty bottles
as though they were encyclopaedia sets.
“Come on Aussie come on”,
cricket ad crowds chanted,
on Bertie’s black and white TV.
Patriotism was a virtue
long before Ben learned the word,
until it was as vacuous as the evasive waffle
of propaganda spruiking Prime Ministers.
In the ensuing years:
there were lakes to kiak,
beaches to explore,
shells to collect
and missions to Endor to direct.
The bushland was an Ewok planet one day
and steaming jungles
of World War Two Papua New Guinea the next.
Paddocks were every sporting arena,
from the Roman colosseum to Wimbledon.
The village was more parallel universes
than the second hand bookstore
could cram into its science fiction shelves.
Today, the forest is scarred with golf courses
and lakefront mansions
as uninspiring as toilet blocks.
The serenity has been murdered
by go karts, trail bikes and jet skis
as numerous as the goannas once were.
On the towering new council chambers
“The Lemming Shepherds”
was sprayed with Rembrandt precision.
That strange merger of skeletons and tree trunks,
haunted environmentalists and property developers alike.
Following the mayor’s enraged editorial,
his weekender was marred with the same phrase.
Coffins full of wallaby bones,
were left on his front lawn.
His dreams were invaded
by a figure in a lizard skin mask,
whose rage was as tangible as a vat of acid.
Sleeping pills could not banish him.
Closing the new driving range
and nurturing the land, until the forest reclaimed it,
hardly softened the fury in his weaponised eyes.
Donating his assets to environmental activists,
was as ineffective as resigning.
A best selling autobiography
entitled Confessions of an Environmental Vandal,
dissolved the nightmares.