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GRANDFATHER COD


Another  Old  Grandfather  Cod  heaves  and  gasps  as  the  thin  glaze of

               death  dulls  his  eyes,

Held  high  and  displayed  in  the  triumphant  grasp  of  an  angler  

              surveying  his  prize,

For  more  than  seventy  years  this  Grand  Old  Man  of  the  Murray

              eluded  each  baited,  barbed  hook,

Now  his  mummified  corpse  will  hang  in  a  glass  case,  measurements

              ticked  in  some  fisherman's  book.

 

Hatched  in  the  hollow  of  an  ancient  red  gum  log,   a  silver thread  

              darting  through  shadow  and  sun

Tasted  cement  and  traced  earth  stained  water  when  work  on  the

             huge  Hume  Dam wall  was  begun,

Knew  every  crevice  and  dim  hidden  cavern,   avoided  the  cormorant's

            greedy  foray,

Survived  summer  drought  in   deep  riverbed   channels,   fought

            swollen  floods  threatening  to  sweep  him  away.

 

Did  he  hear  the  great  shout  from  the  pubs  near  Echuca  when

           Pharlap  stormed  home  for  the   coveted  'Cup' ?

His  own  race  run  yearly  when  instinct  compelled  him  upstream for

           the  spawning  as  currents  warmed  up,

Was  he  there  when  you  rode  a   restored  paddlesteamer,   watching

            unseen  from  a  sheltering  bank?

He  had  quested  remains  of  a  dozen  such  vessels  long  covered

           in  silt  near  the  shore  where  they  sank.

          

Ragged  fins  mutely  record  fearsome  battles,   old  scars  ridge  his

               jawbone  from  tussles  with  line,

Limp   body  degraded  as  flies scout  the  carcase  and  rainbow scales

               fade  to  a  lacklustre  shine,

Sad  songs  of  mourning  sigh  through  the  Barmah  echoed  by  

              plaintive  regret  of  curlew,

May  his  spirit  forever  glide  the  long  reaches  of  familiar  deep

              riverbend  haunts  he  once  knew.