If they stay they stay, if they go they go;
On the Mulgrave Road it’s a choice you make.
There’s an ax in the stump and a fork in the row
Or a bag to pick and a train to take.

Sandy was one of the wandering sort;
Not for adventure, not for play;
But a fellow that cut the taking short
And followed the earth for a season’s pay.

It was just that his hardwood stand was gone
From the sidehill woodlot across the creek –
And he shipped on a tramp at West Saint John
For Boston, Georgetown and Martinique.

His hands were busy with sea and stone,
Timber and tractor, rope and bale.
The years grew short. And his grin was known
In Denver and Brandon, Spokane, Trail.

He knew Dundee and the Surrey Docks
And the wired shoulders of Vimey Ridge
As well as the road of gravel and rocks
From Grady’s place to the Iron Bridge.

You can see the rainclouds gather and pass
Over Hadley’s Beach or the Artois plain;
And dust on the grass is dust on the grass
In Guysborough County or Port of Spain.

It was oar and crosscut, shovel and crank,
Hour by hour and year by year;
Till he heard, in a dory on Georges Bank,
Adventure calling, sudden and clear.

If they go they go, if they stay they stay;
But once in a hundred a man will pack
His clothes – and his habits – and roll away;
Or a lad with the wandering eye come back.

It was just that he knew, in his tranquil mind,
He was done with the habit of chance and change;
And his eyes were eager at last to find
Something different, something strange.

You can find him deep in his venture still,
The green oats growing, the young corn hoed –
Where the stumps are gone from a hardwood hill
By the turn of a creek on the Mulgrave Road.

© Harry Bruce, All Rights Reserved