Poem

Maxine Beneba Clarke
Rain

no rain in sight,

                     all hot south-westerlies

 

         spring-tinder

 

grey smoke, coiled

                      around the cowering

sunshine coast

 

amanda wheezed,

and sucked her ventolin

 

 

dad called out

                     we’re leaving soon,

and wet the roof again

with hose

 

 

mum said

                     the car’s all packed

                     what are we waiting for?

                     we had a plan, come on, get in

                                           let’s go!

 

 

in the end

       we left their wedding photos

 

 

packed in cardboard boxes, in the hall

 

 

when the fire came,

the four of us just legged it:

 

grabbed the dog,

got in the car, and drove

 

 

       dad said

                     jen, i think you might be speeding

 

        mum snapped back

                     well yeah, of course i am

 

 

we were lucky, we got out

and lived to tell the tale

 

even though we never saw

       our house again

 

 

after,

       everything looked really different

 

the trees were charcoal poles,

             no birds flew by

 

mum cried amongst the ashes:

kicked charred spoons

         where her new countertop once lay

 

dad’s shoulders drooped

 

                     he bit his lip,

and blinked his eyes, and

                                           looked away

 

he said these fires,

                     they make runways

                     of the landscape scars

       we settlers made

 

 

mum snapped

                     oh, don’t start that nonsense,

        we just needed bloody rain

This article was first published in the print edition of The Saturday Paper on Sep 14, 2019 as "Rain". Subscribe here.

Maxine Beneba Clarke
is The Saturday Paper’s poet laureate, and the author of The Hate Race and Foreign Soil. She is a winner of the Victorian Premier’s Literary Award for Poetry.