What Price a Life© Vic Jefferies 2003
The auctioneer was brash and loud,
a fine example of his profession
as he announced to the assembled crowd,
’ÄúThis place goes vacant possession!
The bank’Äôs instructions to me are clear
I must sell this land today,
for the farmer is six months in arrears
and it is plain he cannot pay.’Äù
The old man stood by the stockyard gate
quietly watching the sale proceed,
his heart growing heavy with shame and hate
as he observed the vultures feed.
Though he knew there was nought could be done
to save his precious land,
For now the wind the drought and the sun
had assumed complete command.
The auctioneer with his cheery face
from where he stood beneath a tree
cried, ’ÄúI said I’Äôm here to sell this place,
not give it away for free!
Here is your chance to secure a prize,
wont someone make me a bid?’Äù
And to everyone’Äôs great surprise -
that is just what the old man did.
’ÄúI bid,’Äù he said, ’ÄúForty years of toil,
of heartbreak, sweat and pain;
the blood and the tears that watered this soil
while we starved through years without rain.
’ÄúI bid,’Äù he said, ’ÄúA good woman’Äôs life
now gone to her God too long,
because she was this poor farmer’Äôs wife,
and stuck to him right or wrong.
I bid you her grave beneath that tree
from where you stand to conduct your sale.
That tree was planted by her and me
when our youth said we could not fail.
I bid you a life of fighting the banks
and their never ending greed,
and I bid you a life of no thought or thanks
from the thousands that you feed.’Äù
Then the old man sadly turned away
and walked out through the gate,
and still I ponder to this day
what now is the going rate:
for the sum of a man’Äôs entire life,
and the lives of his family -
and what do you bid for a beloved wife -
asleep beneath her tree?
May 8th, 2006 17:56 e
Oh my goodness - a poignant tribute to the hard work to keep the land going, the heavy price paid and the inevitable heartache when control is taken away. This is a sad story but could so easily be based on fact.
Mr Jeffries has produced a work of art here, the story, the emotions and the tight feeling in the throat all blend together to make this a wonderful poem.
May 5th, 2007 19:23 e