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

from afar,

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