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Bull's Head Inn
by David Rowbotham

LEANING INTO THE HILLSIDE, IT SEEMS
TOO FRAIL TO HOLD ALL THE MEMORIES AND DREAMS
THAT CLING TO ITS SAGA OF WALLS MORE HARDILY
THAN THE BEAUTY OF THE PEPPERINA TREE
OR THE FELINE STEALTH OF CAT'S-CLAW SCRATCHING YEAR
BY YEAR AT ITS ENGLISH ATTIC-EYES. THESE PEER
WITH CENTURY WISDOM OVER THE DOWNS; NOW DIMMER,
MAYBE, BUT NO LESS AWARE OF THE HARVEST-GLIMMER,
THE NEW FACES, PATTERN OF CHANGE, AND THE BLUE ROAD-
CLEAN CONTRAST TO SULLY-RED - WITH ITS TRAFFIC LOAD,
SWINGING OUT TO WARWICK, SWEEPING BY
TO TOOWOOMBA UNDER THE SUMMER-PURPLE SKY.

GREY SOUVENIR OF UNREMEMBERED DAYS,
BESIDE THE TRANSFIGURED BULLOCK TRACK IT STAYS
THE FINAL CLUTCH OF MODERNITY WITH A QUAINT
WOODEN GESTURE OF GRACE THROUGH ITS WIZENED PARCHMENT
OF PAINT
AND A GENTEEL SUPERIORITY OF AGE
THAT ERASES PAST NOTORIETY. A PAGE
OF HISTORY HEIGHTENED BY A SUBTLE FICTION
IS TURNED IN THE LOCAL DIARY, CRAMMED WITH A DICTION
THAT PUZZLES BUT BABBLES A CHALLENGE TO ARDENT RESEARCH.
A STORY SURVIVES THE CREASE, THE SCRAWL, THE SMIRCH,
SHAPES ON THE TONGUE AND IN THE HEART, REVIVING
SHADOWS OF MEN WHO HERE DESIGNED A LIVING.

TO THE SIGN OF THE TRUCULENT BULL THE LESLIES RODE,
STILL VIGOROUS FROM EXPLORATION; STRODE
BENEATH THE SWINGING BANNER, ITSELF A DUSTY
PIONEER WITH HINGES TURNING RUSTY,
AND TALKED WITH DEUCHAR, DAVIDSON, AND BELL:
POOR ARISTOCRATS IN A WORLD THAT COULD NOT QUELL
THE BLOODED SOUND OF LAUGHTER, PAIN OF ENDEAVOUR,
FOR ALL ITS WILDERNESS. A NEVER-NEVER
OF UNDISCIPLINED COUNTRY SLOWLY YIELDED TO TOIL
AND TO DREAMS ONE VAST COMMUNION OF SOIL
WITH HEART, OF IMMUTABLE STONE WITH MOULDING HAND -
A CONFIRMATION CAME INTO THE LAND.

O SPACIOUS DAYS...SIR JOSHUA'S THOROUGHBREDS
NEIGHED AND CHAMPED IN THE SENILE STABLES THERE, SLEEK HEADS
THRUST OUT SEEKING SUNLIGHT OR THE HARD
SQUATTER'S-FONDLE: AND FROM SANCTUARY OF A BEARD
THE REVEREND BENJAMIN GLENNIE PREACHED IN THE HEAT
OF EIGHTEEN FIFTY-SIX IN A PARLOUR LESS MEET
FOR DIVINITY THAN ABIDING ODOURS OF ALE
OR THE SLAP OF THIGHS AT A CUSTOMER'S PROFANE TALE.
CLARK IRVING. IN SYDNEY ANONYMITY,
"STOOD" FOR THE CLARENCE AND DARLING DOWNS THAT YEAR,
HIS VOTES ASSURED OR LOST WITH THE INN'S BEST BEER
BY LAMPS THAT BURNED FOR PRAYER OR GAIETY...

THE "ROYAL BULL'S HEAD" REMEMBERS IN THE DUSK:
OLD ENGLISH INN - O MAGIC WORDS - WITH THE MUSK
OF FLOWERS IN THE THE WARM AUSTRALIAN EVENING
PERFECTING THE BEAUTIFUL DECEPTION. FLING
THE WINDOWS WIDE: LET THE HARVEST WINDS DALLY
WITH HISTORIC SASHES. THEN ONLY BANGALLY
AND THE GUMS UNDER THE CRYSTAL MOON DENY
THE ALIEN ROMANCE OF THE MIND. AND THE EYE
DARKENS. DISILLUSIONED. BUT MEN'S DESIRES
BRED TRADITION HERE THAT ENDURES AND INSPIRES.
GO. LIFT THE KNOCKER OF CARVED WHITE BRASS AND RAISE
THE PLEASANT GHOST OF REDISCOVERED DAYS.

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