It begins like the rain often does.

A hesitant kiss - so light and tender that you are unsure if you felt it on your skin at all. 

The ash begins to float in. 

A tiny fragment of grey dust at first, then a flake of a forgotten tree.  

A waft of burnt sap comes next - sickly sweet and hanging heavy like spilled syrup in some faraway swagman’s pan. 

The dense, oppressive heat becomes a swirling wind; taunting the long-suffering trees, stripping them of the last of their curled and tortured leaves. 

The sky transforms: a hazy grey of thick, murky soup splintered with flecks of amber.

The firestorm rolls in.

Mother Earth burns now,

but soon there will be rest and she will heal. 

Saplings will break through;

hopeful and ready to hold up the sky.