Those Shears, That Tree

THOSE SHEARS, THAT TREE is written by David Schoeffel from the Deniliquin Creative Writers Group. It was narrated by David Schoeffel and produced by The Shack Studios, Deniliquin.

The Passing Out Parade was supported by the Australian Government’s Anzac Centenary Arts and Culture Fund and was coordinated by South West Arts in partnership with South West Music Regional Conservatorium and Outback Theatre for Young People.

By David Schoeffel

"Tree experts say that tree grow from the top:

You chop a mark; it stays at the height you chop:

The stem grows wider, makes the stretched bark split.

But it doesn't rise, and that's all there is to it.

Yet, out on Old Morago, stands a tree That gives this truth the lie, it seems to me

A great red gum, some thirty metres high,

Reaching, from native cherry, for the sky.

Set round with saplings, sinewy and sender; Arms in the air; a giant in mute surrender,

With, eighteen feet up; twenty, at the best,

A pair of hand-shears buried in its breast.

They say that, since the stabbing of those shears, July this year has seen a hundred years, When Old Morago's shearing shed cut out And all the boys, from gun to rouseabout, Decided to volunteer; they'd go and see What fun was brewing in Gallipoli And young Perce Morran, in fierce finality, Slammed shears into a slender red gum tree.

Twelve of them went, from Morago and Pretty Pine, To hang out their washing on the Siegfried Line; The two Holmes boys, two Caldwells, young Irvine Middlemiss, Crowe and both Chalmers, making nine, With them, leaving shed, home and injured tree, Impatient for the fray, the other three: Arch Shallberg, Bob Henry, and our Percy Morran, Adventuring off, to fight things fierce and foreign.

Too soon they knew the thrill of the advance, First in Gallipoli; all too soon in France; The Maxim gun, the barbed wire and the stench Of bits of bodies, rotting round the trench;

The Howitzer, the hand grenade, the mud, The gutted mate there, in his pool of blood; The way that gassed lungs never seem to mend; The bayonet, with its boy on either end.

So, sadder men, but wiser, ten returned; Heads full of nightmares; lungs that wheezed and burned; For God, King and Country, ribbonned medals earned; Each generation's awful lesson learned.

And, after the hells of France and Gallipoli Perce Moran found his shears, stuck in that tree. But now so high, he couldn't reach the shears, So they've been growing there these hundred years.

Sheffield or Solingen? The steel's so rusted now Noone could tell. It doesn't matter, anyhow. Both steels made shears; both, bayonets, for a war Where few could say what they'd been fighting for."

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