With her forked stick
she walks the surface of the drought.
She walks the future of their farms
calling water to sing through the twig
wherever it may be.
She looks for The Dog stars
in the sky
waiting patiently at the twin’s table.
Cosmic dogs with dry throats sing,
‘the land will once again
have need of boats.’
She throws her forked stick
into the expanse of sky, whispers
‘Little Dog and Dog star hunt for water
Give us rain.’
But for now she must find the underground stores
to tide them over until that rain is found.
The Great Dog rises before dawn
at the end of summer.
of the rains can end.
All will feast on her tears
soaking into earth
giving seeds birth to
and a land without drought.
(c) June Perkins
Notes on the photograph
Margaret Barr (1904-1991) was born in Bombay, India. She went to school in California, USA, and in the 1920s studied dance with Martha Graham in New York and choreographed her first works. During the 1930s she taught at Dartington Hall in Devon, England, an experimental school run by Dorothy and Leonard Elmhirst, and opened a studio in London. The productions of her own dance dramas often featured original music by composers such as Michael Tippett, Donald Pond and Edmund Rubbra. With her husband Bruce Hart, a conscientious objector, she travelled to New Zealand at the outbreak of World War II, where she accepted the position of Director of Movement at the Auckland School of Drama. She moved to Australia ten years later, and for four decades made a unique contribution as a choreographer, director and teacher. She formed the Margaret Barr Dance Group in Sydney in 1952, was Director of Movement at the National Institute of Dramatic Art from its inception in 1958 to 1975, and conducted classes at her Annandale studio. Her choreography was motivated by strong social and political concerns, and her dance dramas ranged over diverse topics such as the work of Mahatma Gandhi and Margaret Mead, drought, and the Melbourne Cup. She died in Sydney on 29 May 1991