From Small Beginnings

Catherine Lee

Beginning with the smallest sign, a tiny wisp that seems benign,

the embryo of devastation glows,

till embers stir to spread, ignite, as suddenly they flare alight,

to catch the scrub with vicious seeds it sows.

The smoky tendrils feed the flame determined to release and claim

surrounding vegetation parched by drought,

then in a trice the tussock burns as southern wind whips up and turns,

and panicked wildlife tries to struggle out.

For soon enough it breaks its ranks to make its mark and breach the banks

of riverbeds drained dry through constant sun,

and hurtling over baked terrain it infiltrates the blistered plain,

a ruthless monster freed and on the run.

The conflagration swiftly grows as southern wind whips up and blows;

the blaze seems filled with incandescent rage.

The undergrowth explodes and cracks, as standing on the dusty tracks,

we battle on determined to assuage.

We’ve stood to face such flames of hell – have felt their heat, inhaled their smell,

have witnessed mates succumb and breathe their last

while fighting wild frenetic beasts the devil’s aminions have released

and knowing rest won’t come until they’ve passed.

When finally the thunder’s heard and drops of rain mean hope is stirred,

we cheer, as far above the heavens quake.

As night falls on an eerie scene obscured by ash with sights obscene,

we count the cost of ruin in their wake.

A few weeks later, sweet relief as sprouting leaves help soothe our grief –

a new beginning bringing faith again.

Yet still we sometimes question why we do not listen and apply

more wisdom from our country’s native men.

Beginning in the smallest way, these fiery foes devour their prey,

deliver heights of horror none transcends.

We cannot underestimate their faculty to desolate…

for ultimate destruction’s how it ends.