evidence to the commission of enquiry #1 overview

Back to: Surviving the Devil: A Song of Fire
Poem #29 from the ‘Surviving the Devil’ collection (unpublished)


the people living in the hills
where we live
were all chasing an uncomplicated ideal

for instance
my wife never watched TV
or opened up the daily paper

you see
all of us wanted to get away from that
and the whole town was full of people
who were much the same

yes it was hot that day
and yes
the blistering wind came from the north
but we’re used to that
so the first I knew anything
of firestorms
was a blossom rising red
in the paddock stubble
of the man next door

I went out
to hurry the neighbours up
told them
now was time for them to leave

and I waited at the bottom of the hill
for my wife and my son
until the leaves beneath my feet
began to glow

then I had to turn away


we didn’t hear any warnings
over the radio
or anything like that
it was raining gum leaves
from out of the trees
for days and nights beforehand
so we knew something was up


I said to my wife
that fire’s out of control


the guys in charge of the firefighters
thought Marysville was still okay
but the place was already ash and corpses
the night before


from the operations room
it was hard to keep track
and to know where was most needy
who to focus on

there were hundreds of fires on the go
by that stage


the sound I heard
was like ten or twelve jumbo jets
down at the airport
all screaming their guts out
at the same time


before lunchtime on that day
I’d have said the fire response system
in this state
was second to none
in the entire world

that’s what I would have told you

© Frank Prem, 2010

To Poem #30: evidence to the commission of enquiry:
#2 like a duck on the Marysville lake



3 thoughts on “evidence to the commission of enquiry #1 overview

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