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Rainwater Tank

The historic town of Hill End has a museum and quite a lot of well preserved cottages. This rainwater tank was on one of them. Rainwater tanks are of course a very old fashioned country-style type of thing which are now very in vogue in the city as an answer to water restrictions during drought.

Photo: Rainwater Tank, Hill End

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."


  1. Hah! Nice one!

    I've been missing my regular dose of poetry!



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