The counsel says, go find a tree. Address it as Guardian and ask it for teachings on how to grow and be strong and to serve a life greater than one’s own. I think of my burnt trees and weep. But then I think of the few recovering ones of how their roots delve in the earth, how they stand strongly in their foundations, how they have survived their challenges are damaged but growing still, how their seeds sprout and flourish in the millions, how they could re-Eden the earth if we let them.
Oh Tree, my heart aches for your pain and for mine. May I be as steadfast as you. May I, too, find fertility in the char. May I, every day, breathe of the air and the sunshine and be nurtured. May I, again, grow strong and cheerful, living in the shining, living in the shining with my roots in the good earth.
I’m sorry that you still limp down the corridors of pain. I turned back and held out my hand but it turns out we were in different worlds by then:
you, in a bureaucratic nightmare with mud on your shoes, me, weeding on a hillside in a sun shower getting wet, amid daisies.
What can I do? I bend my ear to the daisies and they tell me this is the time of my healing. The earth works constantly on becoming fertile, and I must look forward, not back.
But, my friend, your nightmare of pain will end, it can’t not, if you keep walking one step, at a time. Therefore keep hope, keep hope. I’m waiting for you on this hillside amid daisies.
This poem was written for people who lost their houses and are not yet rebuilt.
If you think that the fires were a long time ago and that people should be ok by now, you’re wrong. Some of us are, but do not judge others on the luck and support systems of a few. The majority of people who lost their homes are still struggling, daily, with bureaucracy and mud and shortages caused by the building boom. Among other things. Did you know there is not enough wood? Welcome to the future.
It is very hard on these people to struggle like this. Ervin and I had it easy. Relatively. The Recovery Center was still running when we moved in to our new house. They had helped us in innumerable ways. But in March that was closed down. And now the only other form of communication, a facebook page, has been shut down too. We were told at the beginning to expect that recovery would take five years! We were promised support by all and sundry.
It is very hard to watch these people suffering, knowing what they’re going through, and knowing they have no support, knowing the federal government promised support that was never forthcoming, knowing they go to the mental health group that was supposed to offer free counselling only to be told “But the fires WERE eighteen months ago.”
I feel privileged and my heart aches for them, but there is nothing I can do. I am not an advocate and even if I were, I wouldn’t have the energy. Plus I think it’s important for me, now, to follow the path of healing. Since I can’t help others whose shoes I have been in, then I need to heal enough to do the work of the future. I hope my work will make the world a better place. Who knows?
Presently of my work now is outdoors: trying to control the weeds, cover bare earth, plant habitat for the birds and animals who I dearly hope will come back and breed here again. I can now count our birds on two hands. Crows, magpies, cockies (three types, including correllas. Shudder. Their first act was to severely prune my freshly planted apple tree), thorn bills, shrike thrushes, willy wagtails, and blue wrens. I think I hear Wattle birds. And that’s it. And that’s two hands. But where are the nectar eaters? Well, where is the nectar? Hence all the planting.
The use of the daisy in the poem is because they are some of the pioneer species after fire. They put down decent root systems, draw nutrient up, and add to the build up of humus. they increase the fertility of the earth and create habitat for other species to sprout. after a few years, I am assured, they begin to dieback and other elements of the bush take over. Now, I’d prefer that they were yam daisies (and there probably are some), but if dandelions and cape weed are cloaking the earth in the interim, good.
There are still major things to do, like making an all weather track to the top of the hill, fencing, putting in and plumbing a bore, (and that’s been a bureaucratic nightmare.) But my tiredness and struggles are nothing, nothing, compared to the problems of people who are still trying to build.