My sister dances and twirls

Burnt leaf from the 2020 Australian bushfires, Sapphire Coast NSW

like a burnt leaf in the wind,

crackling with laughter.

She snatches and catches

at strange black objects

stark against mandarin skies.


A sieve of ash

like icing sugar topping a cake

sprinkles our shoulders

and I can’t help but think:

it’s a forest falling upon us

and everything in it turned to dust.


As Mum packs boxes in the car

(a Tetris game with photos, laptops, pyjamas, toys)

I unpack new boxes of fear:

things that never frightened me before,

like a whisking west wind

and a warm summer’s day.


As I pick pieces of fern

from frizzled hair

my sister starts spluttering.

I run to pat her back.

‘It’s like catching snowflakes,’ she says.

‘But you shouldn’t use your tongue.’


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