Charlie Gray, the seaman, is dead, now,
Swimming through a tide of wind, sun and dust
And, in his madness, summoning up belly full sails
And swooping gulls
They struggle on
Across the spiked sand and the scattered shingleback stones,
Burke, Wills and King, together,
Forcing the mechano pieces of their limbs to respond
And mocked by the rivulets of make-believe water during the day
And the cold, white wash moon at night.
Yet, as the blurred, chaotic horizon hardens into trees
And scarlet scribbles on the water of Cooper’s Creek ahead,
Their disordered minds rake together reunions, talk round a fire,
And escape to the south.
So, spent, but determined,
They reach the bank of the Cooper,
Where, among the tilting tombstones of trees,
They hear the condemning cawing of crows
And watch as a dingo sidles away from the deserted camp
And a sliver of smoke creeps out over the water.