The Street Where I Grew Up

Winner - 2015 Walkamin Country Music Festival Written Bush Poetry Award - Mareeba, Far North Queensland.

How often have we journeyed back to places from our past, only to find they have changed beyond all recognition? Fortunately, our cherished childhood memories stay with us, no matter how time alters the world around us.

The Street Where I Grew Up
(c) Shelley Hansen 2015

I see it through nostalgia's eyes – the street where I grew up.
Like many country towns, its girth was wide –
the only avenue of stately jacaranda trees
with timber houses queueing side by side.

My parents formed a friendship with the folk who lived next door
the seeds of trust were sown across the fence.
Mum served a daily diet that was rich in homemade fare
and liberally spiced with common sense.

We kids played backyard cricket, ran our go-carts down the hill –
our Saturdays were packed with joyous play.
The only time we went "online" was pegging out the clothes
while giving Mum a hand on washing day!

The baker came on Tuesdays with his steaming hi-top loaves,
the fruiterer on Thursdays reigned supreme.
The rattle of the milkman's crate declared the early dawn,
delivering pint bottles topped with cream.

Our "fast food" came on Saturdays. We?d hear the cry, "Hot Pies!"
The neighbourhood would all turn out in force
for pies in paper packets – and a weekly chance for chat
well-doused with gossip and tomato sauce!

We shared our backyard playground with the singing butcher birds,
our home-grown eggs were yellow as the sun!
The bees buzzed through the wattle, and the kookaburra?s call
resounded in the air when day was done.

Once more I've come to walk this street, to capture if I can
the majesty of yesterday's sweet song.
My mind's eye builds a landscape I expect to be the same
when suddenly I notice something's wrong.

The trees are gone – replaced with fences over six feet high.
No sound of children's laughter fills the air.
I long for cheery greetings but each door is bolted fast
and no one even knows that I am there.

The sun has risen twenty thousand times since I stood here
and fifty years have washed away my youth.
I feel bereft and sad – so much has changed, not least myself –
until I realise a simple truth -

Though time may take us far away from places in the heart,
though years may yield their share of storms and strife,
we're never really destitute while memories of gold
weave thread-like through the tapestry of life.

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