One family’s aftermath

In the wake of the devastating fires across Australia, we were sent in this heartbreaking poem by poet Jeff Cook. 

In the wake of the devastating fires across Australia, we were sent in this heartbreaking poem by poet Jeff Cook. 

We kicked among the ruins of what was once our neighbour’s home

The ash that was a cupboard, the twisted kitchen chrome

The burned and blackened birdcage, crushed and lying on it’s side

With a crisp and toasted budgie, almost ash where it had died.

Remains of babies pusher, mostly molten to a blob

A television set imploded – survived by just a knob

The new refrigerator, the new freezer right beside it

With what last week was food, rotting stinking now inside it.

The devastated family stand like zombies in the mess

Barely noticing the cameras or the questions from the press

They pick up things forlornly, their eyes all red from tears

Surveying the remainder of their life for forty years.

The chain down by the kennel where the dog had used to live

Surrounded by a circle of the run his chain would give

But the dog had disappeared before the rest evacuated

They wondered if he’d come home, now the firestorm had abated.

The shed that was their dairy, now collapsed and tumbled down

The new chiller room that was their pride, now melted, burned and brown

The cows lie bloated, on their sides, two legs stuck in the air

As we looked upon the horror scene, our faces showed despair.

The air was calm and quiet, a far cry from what had been

For now no birds were in the trees, the trees no longer green

So many birds had perished, and their homes and food had gone

The deathly quiet mocked their fate, and would do from hereon.

The orchard and the grapevines had been burned beyond belief

No chance of them surviving to give some monetary relief

The tractor and most working gear would never work again

Yet the air was somehow sweeter with the smell of coming rain.

The cruel fate seemed to mock them as they glanced towards our place

Barely just a mile away, but a really different case

Our buildings were almost untouched, our cattle all alive

The fire swept all around us, yet somehow we’d survived.

They’d lost the car, the truck, the home, the pets, the photographs

The fire had written off the lot – almost their epitaphs

They evacuated in a fire truck, with only what they wore

Today they stood in all they owned, midst what they’d owned before.

The insurance man would come along with reams of forms to fill

And though he would feel sorry, he would be a bitter pill

For he’d need some proof of what things cost, some proof of what they’d had

Yet everything had gone, along with gifts from Mum and Dad.

If you’d suffered all that trauma, so much would be unknown

Can you imagine how you’d try to list what had been in your home

If all that had survived was just a kennel and a chain?

And do you think you’d have the courage, to start to build – again?

Share your thoughts below.