Taking Leave

for Keith Hancock

From this window, year on year, we have watched the ebbing of light
over tree-tops, Memorial dome, lake-glint, to the mountain wall,
light shifting, rippling gauze, blue shadow reaching the skyline
where single trees stand clear, faint colour drains into death.

In the hospital by the lake, where white men first built huts,
a frail old man lies waiting the final lifting of light,
frail frame, but the sinewy mind chafes the expended body,
ready to travel further, time to be up and away.

Ninety years youthful, questing through generations,
historian of two hemispheres, quickener of other minds,
lover of your own country, Gippsland to the Monaro,
searching with fearless beam the fate of humankind,

this travailed world your span: but home in the end was here.
Clear voice, warm friend, farewell. A cloud beyond our guess
goes with you over the ranges to another country and calling,
to a fellowship of all souls, to a light we cannot see.

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