The Timber Cutter’s Wife

This poem received a Commendation certificate in the “Gippsland Wattle Competition” 2007

Now life was tough in days gone by, for a woman with a kid.
And work was where she found it, and she slaved to make a quid.
No man in sight to help her out, she battled on alone
With gutsy toil through long, hard days, defeat for her unknown.
She swung an axe at Matlock there, like any man would do;
She didn't shirk such heavy work, and those like her were few.

Her man had met a tragic end, a victim of cruel fate;
A falling tree had gone astray and killed her lifelong mate.
And she was left to win the bread and raise their only child.
She filled each day with honest toil and never was reviled.
She swung an axe at Matlock there, like any man would do;
And went home worn but satisfied when each day's work was through.

The signs of femininity were long since left behind,
For now responsibility was foremost on her mind.
And so she toiled relentlessly on southern alpine slopes
To pay the bills, supply their needs, fulfill a mother's hopes.
She swung an axe at Matlock there, like any man would do;
She pulled her weight and never failed that timber cutting crew.

Soft gentle hands had been replaced by tough and calloused skin;
The sweaty tough exterior well hid what lay within.
For there beneath her blue work shirt there beat a mother's heart
So ready to consume herself, to give her boy a start.
She swung an axe at Matlock there like any man would do;
Ensuring that they would survive, that family of two.

She paid her dues in that work gang with strong and aching backs,
And wielded, with her hard-won skill, her loving husband's axe.
But there resided, deep inside, a feminine desire
To still portray her womanhood which honest men admire.
She swung an axe at Matlock there like any man would do;
But weekend dances changed her, she was woman through and through.

Years passed her by, her body now is broken, tired, and worn,
She's faced her lot and what it gave, life's curtain almost drawn.
Was worth it all as she sees now this ultimate outcome;
Her son's an upright citizenórespects and loves his mum.
The axe she swung at Matlock there, like any man would do;
Was working for her husband and the man he never knew.

© Tom Chapman 2007