i inhale, and the air is cool - chilly even.
i exhale, and wind scurries through trees; faint footfalls like tiny mice.
with my own feet, i try to tread lightly, but the ground is brittle underfoot.
ash… no… snow?
and i realise that the trees here are too angular; leaves whittled into bayonets;
bark dark as tar, fragrant - ‘woody’, naturally, but the scent is jarring.
i don’t… i don’t know this forest…
i’m a stranger There.
i know a bush of cicada drones and billowing birdsong.
i know a bush of scribbly gum, where larvae meander a tapestry onto bark.
i know the bush, my bush… right?
but aren’t we all strangers?
eons ago, people nursed these thick roots swaddled in soil.
people held bush in their hearts. no barbed wire marking mine and yours / us and them.
now, we plunder. steel roars, another one falls and slippery lies land in cupped palms. i mourn.
now, i inhale, and Here, piquant eucalyptus fills my lungs -
fills me with something warm like a tight embrace.
it’s home, foreign as i may be to the trees around me.
i exhale, and i smile.