Thursday, 27 November 2014


Maureen Clifford © The Scribbly Bark Poet

An old shearing shed built from mismatched grey iron,
corrugations now reddened with rust,
its race made from flitches and Cobb and Co. twitches,
 yellowed grass well coated with dust.
A snake lurks beneath the shed, red belly, sleeping
  coiled  up on a bearer well worn.
All’s quiet inside, no Sunbeams, no shearers.
 The two thousand head have been shorn.
But hang about, inside some people are gathering,
 the reason will soon become clear,
this shed’s got the best floor for dancing which is
 why folks travel miles to dance here.
A slab of red ironbark  - rough sawn is the bar,
 which they’ve set up out-back near the race.
  Alongside the wool press the string band holds sway
 with the fiddler setting the pace.

Matilda, come let me waltz you round the floor.
Dance with me Matilda.
Dance with me.

You just look so cute in your pink pinafore.
Sweet Matilda... come waltzing with me.

The bloke on the fiddle plays with heart and soul;
 he is cheeky and raunchy and bold.
The Ladies are glowing; the breezes are warm,
 the beer though is icy and cold.
Two young blades play banjo and both strum along
and they match the fiddler note for note
the bloke on the lagerphone calls out the steps
 and it seems he has learnt them by rote.
“Come on boys and girls take your partner’s hands
 and let us see those ladies swing.
Now step to the middle, and boys bow, girls’ curtsy,
 then promenade round in a ring.
Now twirl your girl, twirl your girl, twirl her again
then waltz her quickly round the floor.
Then gentlemen, bow, pass your lady along
 and all promenade around once more.”

Matilda, come let me waltz you round once more.
Dance with me Matilda.
Dance with me.

For you know you’re the only girl I adore
Sweet Matilda… come waltzing with me.

Those folks who are too old to dance sit and watch,
 tapping feet, clapping hands, calling ‘More!’
The young folks and others all join in the dance
there is scarcely room left on the floor.
Some young blokes are gathered shyly at the bar,
 each one of them scrubbed up and neat,
all watching as young Jack twirls  Matty around,
 spinning her, swinging her off her feet.
The loud noise and laughter echoes round the shed,
escaping from under the roof.
Five long trestles tables groan with the home cooking
 awaiting those good on the tooth.
The local ladies all came bearing a plate –
submitting their cuisine to share.
Delicious, fresh, nutritious homemade and grown
local produce.  The best country fare.

Matilda, lets dance here closer to the door.
Dance with me Matilda.
Dance with me.

I might steal a kiss and hope you ask for more.
Sweet Matilda… come waltzing with me.

All soft drinks lay nestled in ice laden tubs
and big eskies dispense golden ale.
Young babies lay cradled in fine micron nests
 of wool that has not yet been baled.
The young children race around noisy and loud
 with their frantic feet kicking up dust,
As ewes, just off shears,  from dry paddocks look on –
 gentle white faces full of distrust.
The band has played ‘Nellie Gray’, ‘Duelling Banjos’
and the favourite - 'Click go the Shears'
still coming in fast are many requests –
 ‘Danny Boy’ is music to their ears.
Around the clock face metal hands progress slowly,
  the last tune one all loved to hear,
traditionally the last song of the night.
  The young bloke whispers soft in her ear.

Matilda, Matilda let’s waltz round once more.
Dance with me Matilda.
Dance with me.

For you know you’re my love, you’re the girl I adore
So Matilda... won't you come waltzing?

Do you know Matilda we’ll marry one day?
And then all night long in my arms you will stay.
So come with me now girl, dance the night away.

Come Waltzing Matilda.
Waltz with me.

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