‘The Mitchells’, by Les Murray

prunes 2I am seeing this: two men are sitting on a pole
they have dug a hole for and will, after dinner, raise
I think for wires. Water boils in a prune tin.
Bees hum their shift in unthinning mists of white

bursaria blossom, under the noon of wattles.
The men eat big meat sandwiches out of a styrofoam
box with a handle. One is overheard saying:
drought that year. Yes. Like trying to farm the road.

The first man, if asked, would say I’m one of the Mitchells.
The other would gaze for a while, dried leaves in his palm,
and looking up, with pain and subtle amusement,
say I’m one of the Mitchells. Of the pair, one has been rich
but never stopped wearing his oil-stained felt hat. Nearly everything
they say is ritual. Sometimes the scene is an avenue.

Audio

2 thoughts on “‘The Mitchells’, by Les Murray

  1. Until the third stanza this poem is accessible, and then suddenly we shoot off into this odd world about the Mitchells, and I have no idea where we’ve gone.
    On the other hand, hearing Murray read the poem is wonderful: he sweeps along at quite a pace, making sense of lines that seem not so easy to read, and giving character to the voices with the most down to earth Aussie accent.

    Like

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