West Coast, Tasmania, January 2016

Beneath the tall trees
far below on the forest floor,
lie branches fallen
from the giants sides,
lie bushes whose thirst
was never fully slaked,
lie strips of bark
discarded from the giants’ undressing,
and tall native grasses reaching up,
because they have felt for too long
the loss of falling rain.
While myriads of small creatures
raise ears and antenna
in sudden fear
of an unknown danger,
as they wonder which way to run.
Some ferns are still able
to lift hopeful fronds
as from the air they feel
the coming storm.

But the electrical impulses
that rise uncaring from the ground
to meet storm-laden air
only bring the Flash! and Crash!
of angry elements meeting,
as the creatures huddle in confusion
and the giants tremble in foreboding,

Lazily at first,
then with more intensity
Nature fans her work,
and we hear the destruction of the forest
in the warning cry, “Fire!”

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