the pretty valley

there is too much green here
too many shades and depths
of vibrant grasses shrubs and trees
hills rolling into the distance
beautiful enough from some angles
to raise a lump in the throat but misplaced
on top of seams of rich brown coal

before the shape of the road crests to reveal the valley
streaking pointer-lines of ochre-shaded mist rise
in a slow drift action to fill one small portion of heaven
then thin to wisps of nothing
brown of smoke contrasted against grey of cloud

this is the valley of Loy Yang A and B            of Hazelton
and Yallourn             the valley of the power towns
Morwell             Moe             Traralgon              Wonthaggi
home to giant garish-yellow Ferris Wheels with teeth
that eat the land          spitting it in clods onto conveyors
to fling light through darkness at a turning of switches

in the day the four paired smokestacks of Loy Yang
are an ocean liner steaming towards port
a line of twining smoke trailed jaunty in the wind
but at night Yallourn shows visible
staring from left of the highway with an unblinking red eye
a nagging discomfort that keeps pace in the distance

perhaps harsher visions of this place reveal a greater truth
than the elaborate greens of river flats and undulating hills
for the towns are grown poor and threadbare in their fabric
so long a repository for cheap housing in the absence of employment
a final destination for single mothers from the city
in search of modest rental

it is twenty years now into the restructuring
and though the property-men swear
it is still possible to live well here
you must not depend on the richness of the brown coal
set below the verdant shadings of an over-pretty valley
no          you cannot depend on the bastard coal
that has driven so many who once loved this place
to leave

© Frank Prem, 2002


One thought on “the pretty valley

  1. Pingback: Author Interview – Tony Lovell – Bedbug’s Writing: A Collection of Short Stories + Poetry, Volume One & Bad Words (Bedbug’s Writing Book 2) | toofulltowrite (I've started so I'll finish)

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