Isabella Scott, born eighteen-oh-two,
grows gaunt in a cottage on Cheviot side,
the first and last house in Scotland, its view
like a vast Scottish flag, worn linen and blue
with no warmth in it. When her man died
it's what she and ten children could afford,
out of the village, high in the wind.
Five years before, in Paterson town,
a corpse stains the dust on voting day.
Rioters kicked him to death for the way
he was known to vote; more were struck down.
The way you voted being known
can get you sacked and driven away.
The widened franchise is a fizzer, folk say.
Isabella Scott, when Scotch wives kept
their surnames, has letters from her cousin
in New South Wales, Overseer of Free Men:
Send me your grown lads. If they adapt
to here, come out yourself with the children.
In those sunburnt colonies, in more than one mind,
how to repair the ballot's been divined.
Put about, wee ship, on your Great Circle course,
don't carry Bella's Murray daughter and boys
to the British Crown's stolen Austral land.
In ten years the Secret Ballot will force
its way into law in those colonies.
If the poor can just sit on their non-smoking hand
till they're old, help will come from Labor policies
and parties, sprung worldwide from that lag idea
which opens, by evading duellisms of the soul,
the only non-murderous route to the dole.
Don't sail, don't sail, Great-grannie (cubed) dear:
wait just a century and there'll be welfare
in full, and you won't play the Settler role.
The polling booth will be a closet of prayer.