Make your own free website on Tripod.com

 

 

 

            THE POST BOY


Once  again  I'm  awake  -  a  white,   frosty  moon

  Stares  through  the  motionless  trees,

An  echo  of  sound  somewhere  in  my  mind

  Lingers,  to  puzzle  and  tease,

What  did  I  hear?   A  faint  drumming  beat

  Pulsates  around  the  room  still

And  just  for  an  instant  a  dark  silhouette

  Is  poised  on  the  brow  of  the  hill.

 

On  the  chilly  verandah  the  dog  sits  prick-eared,

  Quivering  under  my  hand,

Voicing  an  uneasy,  questioning  whine

  For  something  she  can't  understand,

Every  week  at  this  time  since  winter  set  in

  I  have  left  my  warm  bed  and  tip-toed,

Disturbed  by  a  flurry  of  galloping  hooves

  On  this  seldom  used,  winding  back  road.

 

Patience  rewarded  -  a  glimpse  of  a  horseman -

  Cold  starlight  rimmed,   brilliantly  clear,

His  mount  seemed  to  float  over  ice  underfoot

  Tho'  laden  with  packed  saddle  gear,         

A  slight  form  leaning  forward   raised  a  gloved  hand

  To  the  hat  brim  pulled  low  on  his  face,

Then  vanished  before  me  -  the  bright  sun  of  morning

  Revealing  no  hoofprint  or  trace.

 

"It's  the  post-master's  son,"  the  old  bloke  at  the  pub

  Answered  me  matter-of-factly,

"He'd  be  maybe  fourteen,  round  about  that -

  Can't  remember  the  kid's  age  exactly."

"But,  why  does  he  ride  there  at  that  time  of  night?

  And  where  on  earth  could  he  be  going?

No-one  lives  out  that  way  and  the  track  peters  out

  Where  all  those  young  pine  trees  are  growing."

 

"Pine  trees !"  the  old  man  deliberately  spat,

  I  could  see  I  was  in  for  a  sermon,

"Used  to  be  beautiful,  natural  bush -

  Now  it's  covered  in  European  vermin!"

"The  boy - " I  reminded  " ignores  me  completely,

  He's  always  in  such  a  big  hurry,

I'd  not  like  a  child  of  mine  riding  so  late,

  Surely  his  parents  must  worry."

                                                                          

"His  parents - ?" my  friend  forgot  his  pet  hate

  Of  offending  far  slopes  of  dark  green,

"The  boy  is  long  gone - he  crashed   through  the  bridge

  And  drowned  back  in  Nineteen  Sixteen,

He  delivered  the  mail  to  a  small  mining  town,

  No,  it's  not  on  the  map  any  more,

Like  so  many  youngsters,   he  worked  like  a  man

  When  our  diggers  marched  off  to  the  War.

 

So  needlessly  tragic  -  he  stayed  too  long  trying

  To  salvage  those  damn  canvas  sacks,  

Died  never  knowing  his  injured  horse  bore  them

  Ashore  'fore  it  dropped  in  it's  tracks,

There's  records  and  stuff,   newspaper  clippings

  In  a  case  at  the  local  Museum,

A  few  photographs,   the  boy's  brown  felt  hat,

  Muddied  mailbags  -  if  you  want  to  see  'em.

 

You're  not  the  first  one  to  sight  him,  y'know,

  A  pale  lad  on  a  bloodstained  horse   riding

To  the  timetable  kept  by  the  old  rattler steam-train

  That  dumped  goods  and  mail  at  the  siding."

I  grieved  for  the  boy  on  his  endless  long  ride

  Such  a  lonely,  impossible  quest,

His  unquiet  heart  held  fast  by  a  vow

  That  would  not  let  his  sad  spirit  rest.

 

"The  mailbags - "  I  mused,  "the  ones  he  thought  lost -

  Mate , you've  just  given  me  an  idea."

He  shot  me  a  mystified,  wondering  look

  Before  toasting  me  over  his  beer,

My  request  caused  a  stir  and  raised  amused  eyebrows

  In  the  Museum  some  minutes  later,

Yet  attracted  a  quite  sympathetic  response

  From  the  surprisingly  helpful  curator!

 

I  waited  and  shivered - and  not  just  with  cold,

  Praying  all  would  go  as  I  had  planned,

The  dark  shape  sped  toward  me  but  suddenly  checked

  As  he  saw  what  I  held   in  my  hand,

"Your  mailbags - "  I  whispered,  "recovered  undamaged."

  His  smile  was  as  sunshine  through  rain,

A  triumphant  salute,  a  joyous  "Yahoo!"

  -  The  Post  Boy  did  not  ride  again.