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.