A hard yet fulfilled life on the land
Lines etched on his face
By hard won gains
Battling against all elements
Against nature’s bane.

With a farm inherited from his father’s father
With a proud lineage and strong legacy
He is a pillar of the local, rural community
He doesn’t say much
But is always there to support those in need
Our honourable battler.
A harsh Australian outback
A parched corner of the land
In futile search of rain
In constant yearning,
In constant pain.

With cattle in desperate need of feed
Foraging in dusty paddocks
For meagre grasses
That are distant memories
Long gone
They are starving
Sagging skins draping skeletal frames
Disease takes hold
Too late — they can’t be sold!
No option left but culling stock
Too late to remake his lot.
With debt also the way of life
With incessant bills to pay
Mounting up, perilously high
An amount so obscene
On the brink
Threatening to come crashing down
To destroy his life’s work
To take away his crown.
For all of his experience
For all his father taught him
From generations passed knowledge
The practices and ways
The tricks in his kit bag
The wisdom of the age
With slow governmental policies
That sow confusion
With handouts that shame
They are unable to help him face today’s demons
That climate change has unleashed
Nature’s revenge
Unchecked by man
Upon his unwary, tempered land.
And now his façade is slipping
His belief system is faltering
The pressure continues building
His failings are exposed
This strong and unfailing farmer
Has to grudgingly turn to face a truth
A truth that he has tried desperately to stow
That the master of his surroundings
One that he has shaped with his own two bare hands
That represents his essence, his being
That represents his soul
Well that world
That his world
Is slipping through his fingers
Is inexorably crumbling
Turning to dust.

How does he reconcile this new truth with his wife?
That he has to break her faith?
That all that he could do — has been done
That there is no honest answer
That there is no other path to follow
That he has faltered
That he is lost this fight
That he has failed
That he is cast adrift
In that unforgiving, sun-burnt land.
The knot in his chest grows tighter
Sweat drips from his brow
Sleep continues to evade
And it is in those witching hours
In the pitch black of night
The darkness before dawn
When despair is at its zenith
With innermost fears brutally exposed
Ominous rumblings become louder
His thoughts turn to something wretched
Dreadful whispering surround him
Of a final escape from his onslaught.
He dismisses it in a second
But yet
There is a slight delay…
But yet
It sits there just below the surface
Enticing him
Seducing him
Growing at the edges
Biding its time
Offering its warm intoxicating embrace
A final resolution
The bringer of peace
The harbinger of rest
To be rid of his anguish
To take all his troubles away.
Our dear, stoic farmer
So unwittingly close to his own demise
Pondering his potential options
Options that he dare not speak out loud
Because of pride.

“Oh for the love of God!
Oh for the shame!
Another day
Another night
All consuming
More bills to pay!
No end in sight!
It’s never been this bad before
Nothing I do makes a difference!”
He sighs.

And it is in that watershed moment
At his life’s tipping point
Standing at the precipice
Preparing himself
When all is lost
To take a step beyond
To flee this world
To escape his chains.

And it is in that moment
In the stillness of the morning break
Upon lightening skies
In that oh so precious moment
As he watches the sun slowly rise
Dazzling beams reach across the horizon
Casting their golden rays on all to him that is precious
As he hears a trilling birds cry.

It is in that moment
That he remembers
In that grace
That he realises
Where all that is good in life
Envelops him
That he finally makes a decision
That he finally decides.
With great strength and ultimate resolve
With all his character
With love in his eyes
Of a shared history
Of tears, of laughter, of pain and surprise
A lifetime in its making
Against all his training
That a man must follow
His code
With a never seen before openness
His pride exposed to the elements
Laying down his shame
He turns to his wife.
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