For George Bender



You will only ever own the top six inches,
if you can call it ownership; to some it's more
a stewardship, a steering of all the elements that
you need to get right; the weather, enough rain
to plant or grow grass for cattle, bores that won't
run dry when the season does, firebreaks that will
halt a bushfire like a brick under a wheel, soil that
is rotated to perfection, salinity that can take its time
choking a paddock with its briny hands. Silage pits
that double as emergency funds, molasses and straw
mass graves that keep underground for years
like an inverse cicada, waiting for the poorest
conditions, drought-death, to be reborn as feed.
Mice and locusts that plague the rare fat seasons.



Chinchilla gets the geographical kudos, but this is
more Wandoan, a little more north, a little less known.
A sacred six inches, something knife-blade deep that
barricades a grazier's mind into a Eureka Stockade
of bullish resistance. Six inches that make a farmer
refuse to leave the land and die there; than break
like a joint in a rock along the thin sandstone coast.
The earth is a tenement block; you own the top unit,
the government rents out the flats beneath. Bad risks,
they destroy the furniture, put holes in  plaster walls,
and leave in the middle of the night. They even strip
out copper wire, such is their addiction. Leftovers by
the bin swell and stink like cattle carcasses in a dam.
You can light the kitchen water up like an oxy torch.

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