Shelley Hansen - Lady of Lines

Poem of the Month

September 2019

This poem celebrates events and characteristics of the Mary River - that runs through my home town of Maryborough. During the 1800s it formed the final stretch of the long voyage from Europe for early Queensland settlers.

Mary River
© Shelley Hansen 2012

There's a river in south-eastern Queensland
to which Mary Fitzroy gave her name,
who as Governor's Lady, was honoured
to be etched in this State's Hall of Fame.

She is born in the Kenilworth Ranges -
from the pure mountain springs she breaks free,
driven on by a force unrelenting
to be swallowed by death in the sea.

Though she isn't as wide as the Murray,
cannot rival the Darling in length -
when her floodwaters surge through the valley
she surprises us all with her strength.

For she swirls through the city of Gympie
inundating the houses and shops,
then she spreads out her reach to the flood plain,
stranding cattle, destroying the crops.

Her meander divides Maryborough -
on her banks many industries stood
in the past, when they brought from the Island
barges laden with millable wood.

There was ship building, giving employment
to the families living in town,
but the yards lie decaying and empty
since one last sweeping flood closed them down.

We remember the ships she once carried
with their cargo of hopes and of dreams,
as the immigrants came from the old lands
to new lives, new adventures, new schemes.

She is home to the rarest of turtles,
small and fragile, and yet they survive
in the nurturing arms of the Mary -
she caresses them, keeps them alive.

She appeared in the national headlines
when they sighted a saltwater croc
basking calmly in midwinter sunshine
on the mudflats, down by Beaver Rock.

Men have offered proposals to dam her -
they've debated the right and the wrong,
but the Mary has kept her own counsel.
Did she know she would win, all along?

Ah! If she could relate her long story,
what a wonderful tale she might tell!
But the Mary flows onward in silence,
deep with secrets, and guarding them well!

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