7 December 2012

Nugent by Michael Blake

Nugent by Michael Blake (23)


This is Nugent, and nobody lives here.

In the metres between the town-name signs,

at the base of the bowl of hills, there is nothing

but a stout hall and a locked church with a broken organ

and a house and a shed racing each other into the



Outside the town-name signs there is a Community,

houses and farms pocking the otherwise relentless

carpet of trees.


I used to ride here in highschool – on bikes not fit

to wear the title – skipping and skidding

the five leagues to my best friend’s house;

perched shag-on-a-rock at the lip of the bowl.


It was Nugent that showed me what cold feels like,

sitting in a drafty study at two in the morning, cocooned

in a sleeping bag and the tobacco-drip grip of caffeine,

multiplaying Warcraft II while the wind and some possums clawed

at the iron on the roof.


Here I held the illustrious title of Pheasant Beater,

huddled in a secondhand coat tapping sticks

and fighting through scrub in weather that spun

from wintry sunshine to slashing rain and

gales with teeth made of sleet.


Then the season changed, and cubbies became

stubbies and we got older and I gained a new

appreciation for sitting on the front porch with an empty

afternoon and a full beer and nothing to do but watch

the sun plunge away over the lumpy horizon.


It’s here I think I grew up, gaining friends and

experience and scars in this place that seems

to hold something that my hometown lacks.


We once dug a well, five metres down

into the rusty brown earth of the place.

I remember standing at the bottom, ankle-deep in mud,

taking my can of Cascade Bitter from the niche

I’d carved for it in the wall, and looking up, to see a circle

of familiar sky and faces staring back, worrying

about the strength of the walls.


When I was sure they’d all stopped looking

I raised my can in a silent salute.