gippsland traveller

there is hustle even at this early hour
on the way to leaving the city
lights glowing a red stoppage-time
as though each wishes to linger
in a peculiarly metropolitan form of farewell

passing flashes of red and white
oddly spaced clumps of wildflowers
signal the commencement of countryside
familiar from many journeys
and welcome markers of progress

the thought recurs that on one trip
he will stop to pick a single specimen
of each different flower that he passes
to take home as a gift           a token
he laughs at the idea of a journey
that would take days to complete
and a car overflowing with flowers and scent

the freeway is divided by native flora
grown thick and tall to hide opposite lanes
a far cry from the autobahns of so many years ago
split by a mesmerizing blur of metal posts
winding through the Schwarzvald

follow           pass           follow
he plays tag with a hatchback for fifty kilometers
no cruise control makes the speed variable
a nuisance and a game
the next car he gets will be a better model

there is a voice in his head           a hum
muttered to an unstable tune
in a guttural foreign tongue
perhaps not real words but simple sounds
playing over and over
a lament to link unsung verses
and the passing of time

coffee at Yarragon
two hours before the first appointment
there is no need to reserve a room overnight
in the middle of the week
he always finds a vacancy
room fourteen           smoking

on South Australian roads
they place special marker posts
black for the dead orange for the injured
in Victoria it is wilting flowers
that are a coincidental aid to concentration
for the last leg into Traralgon

© Frank Prem, 2002

4 thoughts on “gippsland traveller

  1. I recall a different occasion when I was tempted into applying for a job in Bairnsdale, and it was a lovely place, but I swear the journey went on forever (from Melbourne).

    Nowadays I’d have to go over the Mountains and via Orbost, I think.

    Long way.




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