A Woman’s Life

Winner Best Original Performance at “The Man From Snowy River Bush Festival” 2005.

There are many unsung heroes of Australian life, but the contribution of women to the building of our nation and our people is of particular note. Women of the bush suffered hardship, deprivation and conditions that many would not believe today. The following poem is my offering to the recognition of the significant role of our women.

She sits on the verandah alone now
The family have all just left
It was wonderful to see them as usual
And causes her to pause and reflect
A full eighty years she has lived now
She has seen all of life’s pleasure and pain
Her greatest pleasure – her family
For in them, she lives again

Born out in the channel country
The land of the black soil plains
With years on end of nothing but drought
And then wild floods from the rain
An upbringing hard in its teaching
Moulded character with unerring intent
To prepare her for her life out there
To prepare her for later events.

In those younger, earlier days
She learned station work and how to ride
Then later, a boarding school in Sydney
Where social graces and manners were plied
At the balls and dinners and parties
She was one of the favoured guests
But she just wanted it all to finish
Her heart just longed for the west

At last she returned to the station
Where with stockwhip in her hand
She worked like a ringer on fire
With a love for the black soil land
There was no job too tough or too daunting
And always a hand she would lend
But, still a lady, in every way
She had nothing but respect from the men

At twenty she married John Colbert
And the two of them pursued their dreams
They found their own station on the black soil plains
And all the hard work that it means
She gave him two sons and two daughters
But she almost died with the third
But then watched them grow in the way of the bush
For such a life has its own rewards

She handled all the domestic duties
Raised children and taught them too
Still helped in the yards and at mustering time
Never short of a job to do
She worked for the love of her family
Determination, sometimes driven by pain
But her spirit was unerring, her commitment complete
Never once would you hear her complain

Her sons, well they grew to fine young men
She was proud, couldn’t ask anymore
But she cried for two nights when she got the news
That she had given them both to the war
Her daughters as well had done her proud
Her courage ran through their veins
And they like her, when finished school
Made their home on the black soil plains

She remembers the times all through the years
She had seen them struggle to survive
But they were built of the same stuff as her
The same spirit that wouldn’t say die
So now alone on the verandah
The memories are all she can keep
Another Christmas Day is over
And her eyes close in unending sleep

The daughters still visit of course
Not a single week goes by indeed
Without fresh flowers on the grave and attention
To the marker which respectfully reads
“Here lies a mother, a wife and a friend
In our hearts she will always stay
She gave to us all of herself that she could
And made us the people that we are today”

© Ric Raftis – 2000