White smoke rising from the smouldering, fallen trees
Doused, doused with diesel

                                               Yankee recruits back burning near the border
                                                the near nausea, the almost suffocating stillness
                                                tasting cinders in a mouthful of drinking water
                                                being offline, tuning into bellbirds, radio static
                                                stopping the car, walking into ash, a powdery veil
                                                indecipherable amalgams that sprout new shoots
                                                taking photographs, here, where the sun seems less stern,
                                                where powerlines burned, an entire village without power
                                                humpies off the grid, the squatters who defended them
                                                with obdurate hoses and roof sprinklers, or homebrew
                                                as the firestorm circled, an Armageddon, a mind of its own,
                                                the cattle roaming, the Princes Highway in meltdown                                               

Something like an unresolved melody without the pressure of ideas
a subtle happening, as when the spines of Jersey cows align at sundown
facing dredged dams, facing the passenger-seat side of the valley
The way the yellowing of leaves quietly composes the burnt trees
one among those whose unease simmers, a climate refugee,
returning to what has felt like home, this moment that is becoming,
as when lyrebirds vanish, or small animals shrink into wombat burrows
returning through the white gates; the gates they cannot hold me …


"As a poet, my process embodies scrutiny over invasion" – Reflection – Michelle Cahill