In the tangled heart
of the bush, a fire is ablaze. Threading
with slender stems, the flaming petals burst forth
in a vivid crimson flush.
The thousand delicate fingers of flame unfurl towards the sky, a radiant pillar
of warmth resting atop leathery, serrated leaves.
I stand on the beaten track, captivated
by the ardent beauty. Even
the blossoming flames flare up,
Burning brightly through the stark and shadow-draped landscape.
But, that summer, a different fire rages. Born from the butt-end of a cigarette stub, fanned
by the flaming, red-hot breath of El Nino,
fuelled by the greed and neglect that has scorched our Earth,
It tears and destroys with reckless abandon, spitting out plumes of suffocating smoke.
When I return
into the ashy, blackened
heart of the bush,
The waratahs are