Things that Pass

It was said that all things must pass:

the big wheels turning, turning
over the drought-lands, the down-and-out lands
cattle skeletons ploughed in like rotted ships
fence-posts - frayed and far-fetched zippers -
dragging lines of wind-sawn wire –  
dun and drear

the fierce fires rolling, roiling
wanton flames - the lunge and buck,
the rear and roar of raging wave-forms
Foam of heat,  cloying, dumping
skimming and spitting – a race of hate.
Grimmest grandeur.  

the weary warriors’ fighting, toiling
yellow uniforms drab with dirt  Every home
for winning, losing – fought by hearts for free.
A thousand small and savage Thermopylaes 
faces bled in forge-furnace sepia – done in,
done up, dull as dust.

The fulsome clouds spewing, spoiling
drowning in fallen sky – nights that suffocate
hessian-brown and hard-inhaling.  The hingeless
flap of funereal flotsam – tree pieces, possum fur
and the torn-out holes of sand-blasted hearts.
Wrung and wretched raining 

But what about memory?  Seared in, branded.
Singed skin and sewn-on stories.  The stink still
there in winter’s friendlier fires – a chimney’s tale of
facts, of fear, of friends, of flocks and fortunes.  
“Lest we forget” this fiendish inferno.  A nation’s collectors
Philatelists of fire.


Photo courtesy of Mr Worms who was one of the warriors

Written for Brendan’s Earthweal prompt “big wheels turning”

23 thoughts on “Things that Pass

  1. You capture the horror of bushfires well. I know what you mean about memories being triggered. I lived in Gippsland during the 2009 Black Saturday fires. Every time I see images of wildfire my mind flashes back to that day.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Suzanne. Those black Saturday fires sounded totally horrific. The 19/20 fires were the nightmare I remember. And then it was floods and then Covid and (in writing the poem) I was thinking about how the media moves on and nothing much more is said but that the scars are still there in so many landscapes, homes, and hearts. So even if it feels like the collective consciousness has moved on, there’s still this undercurrent that will be there for decades… maybe generations depending on the level of trauma.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Very true. It is this dark undercurrent that we need to work with for true Earth healing to occur – well at least that’s how I see it. It’s a theme I keep coming back to and that I am working with in the novel I am attempting to write at present. Your comment inspires me for the day’s work that lies ahead of me – thanks for sharing your insights.

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  2. A terror of wheeling fire, seared into the landscape and memory … There is a new or more intense emotion in the culture where the great fires have burned, a sense of dread as the season approaches again. Fine iteration of remnant particulars that spark that emotion (as Ingrid commented, the alliteration gives this the rowing ferocity of “The Seafarer”) — I was arrested by “the hingeless / flap of funereal flotsam – tree pieces, possum fur /and the torn-out holes of sand-blasted hearts.” In Australia, wildfire crews are largely volunteer, are they not? A different stake for them than with paid crews (though in the US, prisoners are now also being wheeled to the task) — and for witnesses like yourself, who are not small in number and must now face the coming summer staring into hearth fires as here. The wheel is hemispheric – how it burns now in the North, how it will again as the horizon shifts. Searingly done and thanks so for bringin’ it to earthweal.

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