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1. So much smoke in the air, in our lungs, the smell of it on our clothes, the fine drift of ash across the patio, inscriptions of blaze on our lives, the orange-hazed sun, the white skies. The skywriter was writ large for all to see and it was no advertisement, no declaration of love against a deep blue sky. This was not the burning of witches or heretics but the burning of a continent, great retreats of forests, wildernesses, habitats, places our hearts went to regenerate turned to cinder and ash, turned to black stumps. 2. The alarm bells are ringing. A hundred canaries in a hundred mines have died. We falter as we carry on. See the precipice? It dares us to look at it. It is high and the fall is great. Still, we cannot look. We tremble and look away. 3. A scourge is upon us: scourge of population pressure, scourge of proximity, scourge of heedlessness, scourge of inevitability scourge of finger-pointing, of blame, of inadequate preparation and inadequate response, of irresponsibility, of risk-taking, scourge of the first wave and the second and the third scourge that may not end. 4. That life we few of the most privileged generation had, that wonderful life we took for granted and thought we could pass to our children, that life where we treated the world as our oyster on our planes, on our cruises, our endless travels criss-crossing the globe, that life is having a funeral none of us can attend.
David Adès is an Australian poet whose books include Afloat in Light (UWA Publishing (2017).
Copyright 2020 David Adès