Drought

My road is fenced with the bleached white bones
And strewn with the blind white sand
Beside me a suffering dumb world moans
On the breast of a lonely land

On the rim of the world the lightnings play
The heat waves quiver and dance
And the breath of the wind is a sword to slay
And the sunbeams each a lance

I have withered the grass where my hot hoofs tread
I have whitened the sapless trees
I have driven the faint heart rains ahead
To hide in the soft green seas

I have bound the plains with an iron band
I have stricken the slow streams dumb
To the charge of my vanguards who shall stand
Who slay when my cohorts come

The dust storms follow and wrap me round
The hot winds ride as a guard
Before me the fret of the swamps is bound
And the way of the wild fowl barred

I drop the whips on the loose flanked steers
I burn their necks with the bow
And the green hide rips and the iron sears
Where the staggering lean beasts go

I lure the swagman out of the road
To the gleam of a phantom lake
I have laid him down I have taken his load
And he sleeps till the dead men wake

My hurrying hoofs in the night go by
And the great flocks bleat their fear
And follow the curve of the creeks burnt dry
And the plains scorched brown and sere

The worn men start from their sleepless rest
With faces haggard and drawn
The cursed the red sun into the west
And they curse him out of the dawn

They have carried their outposts far, far out
But - blade of my sword for a sign
I am the master, the dread King Drought
And the great west land is mine.

William Ogilvie