Great dividing range

I would like to try to find it again,
this time without laminated map,
without compass worn like a whistle.
I hated school camp up to when
group 3 snowballed off a ridge track
into an accidental valley:
grotto-secret, enclosed but vast,
like the concept art for a Gaia spaceship,
a bucolic colony inside a toilet roll.
This was ours. There was even a hut.
The sun seemed only to eye
over the lip, casting everything –
muscular backpacks, unbelievable
teenage hair, a monstrous dynamic
between the weakest kid and everyone –
into the light of bed before school:
a rich paleness, stretched over privacy,
(what you possessed, and what possessed you)
for much longer than time thought possible.
The country kid dropped twine in a rivulet,
never caught a thing; didn’t care.
The bully read the hut guestbook
but never thought to scrawl all over it;
had an odd respect for what’s inaccessible.
The nicest boy started to gather
the bits and pieces he needed
to prep for tea. He did so smilingly,
as you learn the nicest people tend to do.
I watched lost snow clumps survive
on blowy braziers of grass.
I dreaded a full night in redback bunks.
An arcing breeze knew I wanted mum.
Our valley was not there to judge.


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William Fox lives in Melbourne. His work has appeared in various places, including Overland, Meanjin, Southerly, Island and the Best Australian Poems series. He completed a PhD in Australian poetics at Melbourne University in 2007.

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