The House at No. 3

Out of the Cave

                Seventeen years ago
     a roar engulfed
the singing pines -
       countless breaths exhaling
         the needle sting of smoke.
They stood in shredded funeral garb
    flinging glowing ember flowers
onto us below.
    They witnessed our
         syncopated falling
  and the operatic scream
    of twisting steel,
         the cymbal crash
  of exploding windows.
                We knelt prostrate
         before the fire
bowed and broken:
    an army in black surrender.

Up on the hill, now
   between the sleek sheets
 of glistening modernity
          and long embedded gardens,
    I am still here.
The run-away grass
       (that feathered doom)
           tickles my concrete pad.
     The triad tongues 
of fire, water & tanin
      have left printed shadows
   and the jagged prod
     of steel beams into nothing 
            is my toothy skyline.
The house that was.

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20 thoughts on “The House at No. 3

  1. You do a good job of showing us what the experience was like to be that close to a raging and killing fire. I imagine the pine tar is very flammable and made it even worse. This sounds so terrifying:
    “flinging glowing ember flowers
    onto us below.”
    I’m sorry you lost your house but am so happy you survived.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for your kindness. But this was not my house. I saw the burned remains on a walk with the dog and was shocked that, 17 years later, the site remains untouched, while around it people have rebuilt grander and more modern houses. I was in Melbourne that January day… actually I was on a bushwalk in the Dandenongs (mountains, unless you’re Billy Connelly. 😂). But I remember it well because my boyfriend – now husband was in Canberra and I was surprised he hadn’t called me for my birthday). When I found the reason, I was just glad he was okay.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. You imagined it very well. What a haunting reminder for the neighbors that the site remains untouched! I’m glad he was safe through the fire.

        Frank Prem wrote a book about the wildfires in Australia a few years back, poems based on conversations he had with survivors. It’s called, “Devil in the Wind.”

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I love how your ghost is the house itself, its voice woven of fire’s memory in what was left. A tragedy for the occupants but something wider or longer or both for the space once domicile now weeds. I immediately thought of the small village in Idaho where my first wife grew up, a space in a field where there was only the foundations of a house that burnt decades ago. What a voice to hear and how well you channel it.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. This is so topical and evocative. There are so many of these fire scarred and destroyed houses now. Our Australian fires last year and those around the world this year suggest many more to come. We thought we were accustomed to it, but now it is scary on a whole new level.

    Liked by 1 person

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