Rainwater Tank by Les Murray
"Empty rings when tapped give tongue,
rings that are tense with water talk:
as he sounds them, ring by rung,
Joe Mitchell's reddened knuckles walk.
The cattledog's head sinks down a notch
and another notch, beside the tank,
and Mitchell's boy, with an old jack-plane
lifts moustaches from a plank.
From the puddle that the tank has dripped
hens peck glimmerings and uptilt
their heads to shape the quickness down;
petunias live on what gets spilt.
The tankstand spider adds a spittle
thread to her portrait of her soul.
Pencil-gray and stacked like shillings
out of a banker's paper roll
stands the tank, roof-water drinker.
The downpipe stares drought into it.
Briefly the kitchen tap turns on
then off. But the tank says, Debit, Debit."
Thursday, May 22, 2008