The suburban bus route
elicits in its rider
a mood of compliance
while it finds the longest distance
possible between two points,
allowing that time is expendable,
that mangrove swamps, ti-tree forests
and wild coasts become sub-divisions
with names like Anna Bay, Corlette.
Everything happens in slow motion,
each passing sign a long call
for attention: Subway Drive-Thru;
Baylife Church; Laser Skirmish;
Spectrum Church Café/School.
At a point which could be
half way, the bus pulls in beside
Putters Mini Golf and Clay Target Shooting
on a gravel shoulder
across from a boggy farm
that wants to be marsh land.
The engine cuts. One or two people
continue to talk about the health
problems of someone they know,
then stop. The driver methodically
closes and locks his black change box,
takes his lunch in its paper bag,
folds his beaded seat comforter
under his arm and leaves to speak
to the uniformed man in the white ute
who will become our driver
when they have both done chatting
and nodding and passing the time of day.
The passivity of children
in the back seats stares out of windows.
Then, another curbed roundabout,
another drained swamp, another turn-off
from the destination through land
just cleared of forest and koala,
now decorated with surveyors’ pegs.
A derelict mess drifts by
of concrete holiday apartments that
the inexorable dunes are repossessing;
and then another post-modern Toy-Town
retail centre with its improbable spire
and its singular icons:
the Giant Skittle, the Golden Arches.
If you enjoyed this poem, buy the issue
Overland is a not-for-profit magazine with a proud history of supporting writers, and publishing ideas and voices often excluded from other places.
Subscribe | Renew | Donate November 9–16 to support progressive literary culture for another year – and for the chance to win magnificent prizes!