Small Town

Wide streets, slow talk, visible horizons, unhaste, drinkable coffee, air you can’t see, first prize in the Trap Shoot a ham (second prize two chooks), courteous people, a main street monument to Glenn McGrath, traffic slowing to circle the cenotaph that recalls the one-hundred-year dead, terrain so flat a granite mound (250 metres) is a mountain)*, forty eight social, sporting and cultural clubs (including Writers’ Inc – contact Mrs Shirley Todhunter**), a nursing home full of smiling nonagenarians, churches of wood, the CWA***, a beauty queen crowned Miss Beef…

I like the town.

Walking down the sunblazing main street on a Friday afternoon I pass by three girls slim enough to sit side by side on a single doorstep. All three meet my curious gaze, two smile, one speaks: ‘Good afternoon.’

‘Good afternoon girls.’

Three smiles. These girls, just at the threshold of puberty, haven’t been taught to fear. They smile like their great-grannies who greet me at the nursing home.

I like the town.

In the hospital I treat too many for alcoholism. Ice floods the town, destroying minds, ravaging families. I feel a pang for the three small smilers who did not fear to smile at a stranger.

I come as a gap filler for the doctor who left last week after twenty years of service. The town is in mourning. ‘Will you be staying, doctor?’, the townsfolk ask me.

I don’t like to say no: I like the town.

* Mount Foster.

** I did contact her.

*** If you don’t know the CWA (Country Women’s Association) you have probably never eaten a cream-filled passionfruit sponge cake. If you haven’t eaten a passionfruit sponge, move to a small town and do so.

nevertire of eenaweena

never beenta eenaweena

you’ll never tire of nevertire

when I’ve beenta

eenaweena and nevertire

i’ll have beenta elong elong –

grong grong and matong

were nearer my home town:

I’ve eaten meringue

in wulgulmerang –

in betweena hell,

booligal as well

a long time ago,

in eulomogo;

been alone in quambone

felt at home in gulargambone

done algebra in egelabra

and once in gilgandra

reclined on veranda

and free from hungery

in eumungerie

with grub o from dubbo

found peace, release, ease

at least in burrumbuttock

never felt foreign

in a small town like warren


5 thoughts on “Small Town

  1. I want a cream-filled passion fruit spongecake. I live in a very big village, which almost qualifies as a small town. People still nod and smile to each other as you walk down the High Street. I don’ think we have many of your other qualifications though, but we’re happy here.


    • Hellohillo

      CWA is country women’s association, an historic support and stay for isolated women created and provided by other isolated women

      They famously make and sell cakes
      And are gently derided for this

      If all they ever did was create the sponge cake filled with whipped cream and covered with passion fruit icing they would amply merit the Nobel peace prize

      Happy happy season, hullo


      And mAy 2015 be a fruitful year of books for us both

      See you in London in 3rd week of jan?


  2. I love small towns too Howard, and have lived in a few country towns – none tiny but all small enough. When we travel, I much prefer small towns/villages to cities. I love the sense of space, the ability to breathe, to move at a slower pace. Cities have the great cultural institutions and, generally, better food (notwithstanding the CWA) but that’s about it really.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dear gum whisperer

      Of course you love live and breathe small towns ms eucalypt

      You should see the beauties growing along the Macquarie river in warren

      Magnificent river gums, eloquent of endurance, majestic, a comforting constant in their infinite asymmetric variety

      Thanks for writing eucalyptoliloquist



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