The day after evacuation, we’re waiting at the base of the hill to return. Yesterday’s rain has caught the ash and loose debris, washed it down to the intact houses near us, together with a strange stench. Their gardens and fences carry the stain: perhaps a message, you got off lightly this time.
At last, we’re given the all-clear to drive with caution past the barrier and up the looping road ahead. As we ascend, the slope is still alive with smolder, the occasional split and crack of eucalypt laid low. This burnt-toast smell will linger for weeks. Smoke shades the sun in a somber midday twilight. Stubborn patches of red flame throb and incandesce on blackened trunks and branches. Sparks buzz, pop in multiple short circuits, their weird jigs flickering in our car windows. All those colors, shades, patterns, shapes—danger dressed in nightclub mode—it seems wrong to find beauty here, but we do.
Rounding the corner now, hoping, hoping that the familiar gabled roofline will be unbroken. Our home. Devastation if it’s gone, such guilt if we’re OK but those around us are wiped out...
after the fire
the scent of not knowing
what the future holds
is a poet, short-story writer, and song composer living in Canberra, Australia with his artist wife, Arlene. He has had many stories and poems published online, in print, and on the radio. The short form really appeals to Tony because so much can be said or written in minimal space and time. Key is to convey meaning and emotion, to relate to his audience with rhythm and imagery, to touch their minds and their hearts. His first poetry collection, Sun and Moon, Light and Dark, was published by Ginninderra Press in September, 2018.