National Museum of Australia   

Some stories may be distressing. Get support.
This website may have names and images of
deceased Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

A Song Of Renewal

Fire
the ultimate purifier
She lurks, she strikes, she smoulders.
The stink of her acrid breath pervades the air
Her mantle of choking smoke blankets the space
She spits her fiery venom
She hurls her flaming brands
She showers her burning embers.

Fire,
the ultimate purifier
She prowls, she stalks, she sniggers
She seeks out private corners and lays waste to open spaces
She screams her fury
A tirade of flammable abuse
She roars her temper in tantrums of exploding treetops
She vents her anger in radiant heat and sizzling air.

Fire
the ultimate purifier
She teases, she taunts, she traps
And then she rises up
She unleashes her spite,
Her hunger insatiable, she swallows all in her path
Decimating the land, destroying lives, devouring dreams.

Fire,
the ultimate purifier
She races, she retreats, she reignites
Her fearsome appetite is voracious
She plays with us like a cat with a mouse
Swiping, clawing, ripping
She is a physical threat, a psychological terrorist
A hardened advocate of siege warfare.

Fire,
the ultimate purifier
She crawls, she creeps, she consumes
Seemingly sated she slows her movement
A deadly sniper, she has us in her sights.
She inches slowly forward
The springs into attack
Arcing, whirling, swirling.

Fire
the ultimate purifier
She rests, she regroups, she replenishes
her deadly energy, her lethal armoury, her strategy
giving fire-weary men and women
the chance to clear, to carve, to create containment lines
to draw up battle plans to coax this enemy into firefronts their choosing
A desperate attempt to control, to defeat this beast from Hell.

We
the critically vulnerable,
We watch, we wait, we worry
Where and when the next attack will be
When the next onslaught will occur.
What will be lost, what will be saved, when will it end.
When will this vicious Valkyrie falter.
When will this wilful warrior cry “Peace.

We
the fighters, the families, the friends
We put our faith in man and his machines,
We gather strength from one another
We draw solace from our spiritual beliefs
We keep alive the flicker of hope,
That all will be well, that all will be safe.
But deep down knowing what has been lost.

Gone is our innocence,
Gone too our complacence.
We live in a volatile present and sense an uneasy future.
Our land has been burned, our collective psyche battered.
But just as the phoenix rises from the ashes
We have the opportunity to stretch our wings, to learn from our past mistakes
To listen to the voices of wisdom and replace this concerto of catastrophe
with the song of the phoenix, the song of renewal.

Lizzie, January 2020

A Song Of Renewal

Explore more stories

Share your experience