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.