Aug 2018, Gwydir River, Bingara, NSW
A walk in the winter sun along the riverbank where horses graze and giant gums stand high upon ten feet long roots washed clean by past floods and home to spiders and the like.
Is it any wonder then that this poem comes to mind and circles my brain like the painted horses on a merry go round?
The Spider by the Gwydir
By the sluggish River Gwydir
Lived a wicked red-backed spider,
Who was just about as vicious as could be:
And the place that he was camped in
Was a rusty Jones’s jam-tin
In a paddock in the show-grounds at Moree
Near him lay a shearer snoozin’:
He had been on beer and boozin’
All through the night and all the previous day;
And the rookin’ of the rookers,
And the noise of showtime spruikers,
Failed to wake him from the trance in which he lay.
Then a crafty-lookin’ spieler
With a dainty little sheila
Came along collecting wood to make a fire.
Said the spieler, ‘He’s a boozer
And he’s goin’ to be a loser:
If he isn’t, you can christen me a liar.’
‘Hustle round and keep nit honey,
While I fan the mug for money,
And we’ll have some little luxuries for tea.’
She answered, ‘Don’t be silly:
You go back and boil the billy.
You can safely leave the mug to little me!’
So she circled ever nearer,
Till she reached the dopey shearer
With his pockets bulgin’, fast asleep and snug:
But she did not see the spider
That was ringin’ close beside her,
For her mind was on the money and the mug.
The spider sighted dinner.
He’d been daily growing thinner;
He’d been fasting and was hollow as an urn.
As she eyed the bulging pocket,
He just darted like a rocket
And he bit that rookin’ sheila on the stern.
Then the sheila raced off squealin’,
And her clothes she was un-peelin’:
To hear her yells would make you feel forlorn.
One hand the bite was pressin’,
While the other was un-dressin’,
And she reached the camp the same as she was born!
Then the shearer, pale and haggard,
Woke, and back to town he staggered,
Where he caught the train and gave the booze a rest:
And he’ll never know the spider,
That was camped beside the Gwydir,
Had saved him sixty smackers of the best!