Gumdiggers

On sunny Adriatic shores
on picturesque villages, vineyards,
stony farms, vegetable gardens,
the ancient Ottoman yoke
sat heavily on its poverty
stricken people as the conflict
loomed that would shatter it.

At first families and villages
joined to pay fares for their
menfolk to seek fortunes
abroad until later uncles
sent home fares for nephews
to join them, then later again
young girls for their brides.

In the southern reaches
of the vast Pacific
they laboured for riches
digging up fossilised sap
for varnish and polish
working long hours in
cold muddy swamps.

Scorned by other settlers
they toiled on resolutely.
In time their hard work
freed them to buy land,
plant vineyards, orchards
market gardens, set up
shops for their produce
in a prosperity unknown
in their beloved homeland.

* “gum” was the fossilised sap of ancient fallen
kauri trees later covered by vast swamps.

Gumdiggers

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