Poetry

The Centenary Tower

 The Tower stood,

Short and squat

At the top of a steep, steep hill.

We walked the hill,

Steep as it was,

Trudging upward,

Pushing forward,

While heart and lungs pressed,

Desperate,

Breath coming harder,

Rasping, gasping,

As claves and thighs

Pleaded for pause.

Along the way,

Every twenty feet or so,

A park bench laughed.

“Come, sit,” it called,

Mocking the unfit,

Cheering on the athletes.

We knew yielding would be an end.

To start again after that pause

Would be beyond our will.

You went ahead,

Carrying your fitter body.

I slowed my pace

As the grade steepened,

Pushing harder,

“I think I can,

I think I can,

I think I can …”

And like the little red engine

That could,

I did.

I reached the top

And the tower

That stood

Short and squat.

Bending double

I breathed and breathed

And let my heart settle.

I had done it.

The steps inside the tower

Were steeper, narrower,

Our minds groaned,

We had come this far

The climb inside would be nothing.

Our legs screamed

“No More!”

And after more,

We found the view glorious.

The copper sulphate crystal

Blue Lake,

A dazzling, artificial carpet laid

Amongst scraggy gums

And flowering bottles brushes

Splashing red.

And the green lake, blending

Into its background,

Contrasting in artistic ambivalence.

The town beyond,

Ticky-tacky boxes dotted

Between sinkholes.

Volcanic craters,

Sand dunes,

The oceans in the distance.

The ocean from which this hill

Had been named

Over two centuries ago,

Mount Gambier.

We signed the visitors’ book,

Evidence of our triumph

Over that steep, steep hill,

Stumbled our way downward,

Fell into our car,

And found shaded respite,

By the edge of the Blue Lake,

Where colour calmed our souls.

© Susan Schrader                                                      26th February, 2022

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