About Vic Jefferies
What Price a Life?
The auctioneer was brash and loud,
a fine example of his profession,
as he announced to the assembled crowd,
“This place goes vacant possession!
The bank’s 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.”
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 that 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, “I said I’m 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?”
And to everyone’s great surprise -
that is just what the old man did.
“I bid,” he said, “Forty years of toil,
of heartbreak, sweat and pain;
the blood and the tears that watered this soil
while we starved through years without rain.
“I bid,” he said, “A good woman’s life,
now gone to her God too long,
because she was this poor farmer’s 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.”
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’s entire life
and the lives of his family,
and what do you bid for a beloved wife -
asleep beneath her tree?
© 2012, Vic Jefferies
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without permission.
comments, "A few years ago, my wife and I were driving through outback New South Wales and we happened to notice that a farm was to be auctioned that day. It was in the depths of one of our fiercest droughts and at that time such sales were all too common. As I gazed across the dusty paddocks I saw the cars and trucks parked around the homestead that obviously belonged to those attending the sale and the thought came to me that perhaps something more than the land, the home, the sheds and barns was being sold that day.
About Vic Jefferies
I am a retired serviceman and I live in the state of New South Wales, Australia. I have a deep love of "bush poetry" and of course cowboy poetry and have been writing and performing my own and my favorite authors' poetry at festivals and poetry events for the last fifteen years.
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