Archive for September 8th, 2019

Sunday, 8 September 2019

The Journey Home by Jennifer Wallace Strauss

What’s in the album but time’s
shocks and shadowings,
every image interim?
Between the stockman’s moleskin trews,
the Captain’s uniform,  immaculate or bloodied
this shipboard sketch,
courtesy P&O’s travelling artist …

There’s something of the dandy
(linen jacket, weskit, spats,
cufflinks opalescent gleam) . . .
A musical chap, much in demand
as dancing partner to  the hopeful girls
who came aboard at Bombay
pallid from Indian heat
and still unmarried
“A Jackaroo” they say, “how quaint!”
The smiling mothers
in cabins shake a rueful head
“I know my dear, a gentleman, a General’s son,
but quite, quite, without prospects …”

And sometimes he leaves the music,
goes unpartnered, tired of talk,
up to the top deck to look at the stars,
a trick he learned standing outside
his  boundary rider’s hut
with only stars  and  cattle for company.

Now the Southern Cross is left behind,
he marks Orion, bridger of hemispheres,
uneasy messenger,
for though he is going “home”
to everything familial, familiar,
something within has shifted –
in the space of those outback nights
he has unwittingly
made friends with silence.

It will stand him in good stead
for what’s to come.


Date: 2017

By: Jennifer Wallace Strauss (1933- )