Australia tall blue sky
wide red earth
sunlight of corroded zinc
and people corrugated iron.
of scorched inner space
orbited by urban planets.
At the centre
vast loneliness and sprinklings of people
a cathedral with echoing congregation.
He must have been in the prime of youth then
a young priest in an ancient landscape
flying to remote settlements in almost desert
conducting services, hearing confessions, lifting monotony.
One family became a favourite
the wife strongly religious, the children compulsorily so
strangely for the conservative 1950’s, the husband a non believer.
The randomness of the world permits unlikely alliances
sacred and sceptic found friendship
common passions in sport and politics. No sex or religion.
the nature of their difference profound – and inconsequential.
Random also are the selections of the Grim Reaper
no fear or favour.
Clear skies and dark illness
the agnostic faded quickly : the priest summoned.
Like an attorney coaxing a jury he attempted to persuade
backdoor absolution fully valid – a guarantee in gold.
The soon-to-be departed listened without interruption
“ no mate,” he tells the priest, “ that’s cheating.”