SQUATTERS – A Place Called Home

 

In a field beside our ancient lake

I scan the twilight shore,

a bucolic landscape by an old master,

Gainsborough, perhaps.

 

Spread from tree to tree hang fishing nets,

their web-like strands await repair.

A tethered horse snorts and strains

To feast on greener tufts of grass, just out of reach.

 

Anchored boats, bows pointing to the wind

Bob gently in the evening breeze beside white egrets

long-legged in the shallows,

their stealth rewarded with a tasty catch.

 

I turn to see a fence, a rickety structure of wire and branches

that de-mark the place, staked like a prospector’s claim.

Scavenged items from better days and finer circumstances

are scattered in this wall-less space:

a plastic chair with missing limb;

an equipales partly come unstrung;

black vinyl couch, its stuffing oozing out

provide a sitting-room;

no TV but a view across the lake of matchless splendor -

from sunrise to sundown in brilliant technicolor.

 

The sturdy stone wall of a spacious lake-front home

is all that separates this shabby squatters’ place from someone’s grand abode.

It serves as backdrop to the bedroom;

the rest is framed with planks and airy fronds of palm.

Tin roof, held down with rocks, keeps out the rain;

Accompaniment to the lapping waves,

on makeshift shelf, nailed to a towering eucalyptus tree,

a transistor radio, its volume turned down low,

plays pop tunes.

 

I am reminded of our camping days, when after a day-long paddle,

we’d squat beside a glassy lake or roaring rapid.

Then, a rocky hearth and tent with pine-soft floor

was all we needed for a good night’s rest,

when so little was enough to call that place our home.

 

By Gabrielle Blair

 

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