By noon the trees are peeling paperbark,
red ochre scars and pink new skin exposed;
oil, oozed from pores, hangs listless in the air,
as sweating eucalypts withstand the sun
as best they can. Beneath their scanty shade,
a herd of kine lies still, their roan and brown
a speckled camouflage in flaxen grass
that, brittle, waits a spark to animate
this sultry lassitude of summer heat,
whose haze of blue asphyxiates the bush,
where parrots gag for breath, and small birds shrink
into the shadowed wattle undergrowth.
A slight breeze stirs, to fan a whiff of smoke,
uprearing, like a snake, from near a shard
of glass, to feel the air with flickered tongue.
Then flame spills fast across the dried-out seed,
and crackles in a flurry, raw with fear.
The dragon breathes once more upon this earth,
to cleanse its ancient frame of burnished bones,
yet from the charred remains new growth will come,
for where there’s life that still exists, there’s hope.