Ten By Ten – Amelia Walker

At five am, the Pirie sky already nine shades of Krishna.
Down the main street, palm trees bling
like cashed-up bogans in their forty watt sapphires
– a Caribbean Christmas in a mining town winter.

A remembered slogan teases, snickers: ten by ten
– ten micrograms of blood-borne lead by the year twenty ten,
a promise, bright as the smiles of politicians and company reps,
broken. By how much? Silence. This is a ghost town

where people still live. And laugh. Drily.
What was once a church now dishes up fish and chips.
If lost, glance up: McDonalds’ golden arches glow
at all hours, wings on a mercury vapour angel.

I tread lightly round the toes of dozing grey giants
as they snore their slow, sweet poisons.
Sweet because, after all, mining saved us from recession
– the papers say so daily.

For every empire there’s an army, for every victory, blood.
But Brave New Worlds grow old fast. So breathe
what air you can, while you can. Breathe deep, city girl.
This town paid for your education.

 

Originally published in ‘Blue Giraffe’ no. 12.