“The island is dangerous for children.” The sensible farmer said so.
It is a dry-channel island the river runs around,
A gong-sounding, timbrelly river hustling from far hills
In July, an island with a thousand lime and russet saplings
That crowd and shroud it with their shade. A fallen tree whose trunk
Is bigger than a thousand children weighs one bank
Of the island down. Its roots are dry with hunger from the air.
There is extra foliage all over the neighbouring trees,
The apostle-birds tumble around and ruffle and chortle the air
And fan and tip their tails. An escaped tame white cocky
On a topmost bough with six of his mates calls “Cocky, g'day cocky”
To the schoolmaster crows who only know their own bad language.
The island is dangerous, children, you must stay here by the fire.
The Herefords, calves first, rock scherzo to the river,
Tails up, shining muzzles over the instant mud.
They and the river just lasted out the four-year drought.
They frisk up to the children, who know them all and call “G'day”.
They look deeply and slowly back, and one or two
Are certainly nodding. The cattle do not go on the island.
The children are sneaking sideways. They long for the dangerous island.
Dry cow pats burn sweetly on the red-gum fire.
They are loose cow pats, sign of a healthy beast.
Green grows the clover, oh! And gilded by sunlight.
It is dark amid the saplings on that island dangerous for children.
On the July river flats no flowers grow except by night,
Those of frost, that were still moored in rafts to the tree-shadows
In the early-morning sun. Around the edges of the island
In slants of sunlight between the saplings little harebells grow,
Colour of the winter sky, waving to the children, saying
“Come and play here, the island is not dangerous for children”.