Hard ground

The ground around here is flat and hard and covered by big pebbles and small stones. Next time I will walk back a mile to the tall gum trees where the floods have washed the sand and gravel into long heaps between the roots of the trees. It’s easier to dig there.

On the way to the gum trees stands a tall, lonely dunny. I walk on by the dunny and the attendant flies. I have my own halo of flies. When they need a rest they hitch a ride on my back.

My bare legs don’t collect the spiky grass seeds down around the water’s edge. I carry water back to our camp, weaving my way between the salt bush and enjoying the feel of the seedless, soft fluffy grasses that brush against my bare legs. The water weighs me down and the souls of my feet feel the pressure of the curves and points of the stones through my rubber sandals.

Here on the hard flat earth, away from the billabong, are the biggest grass seeds I have ever seen. They are like enormous straw-coloured dandelion seeds lightly covering the red earth between the tussocks of grass, each one connected to the next. They cling to my legs like wet hairs.

After thirty six hours of rain the hard ground is water-logged and pliant like a newly taut trampoline. With each step I take the ground sinks and then rises behind me leaving only the faintest of footprints for a few minutes until the wet earth absorbs them leaving no trace of my passing.

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