a visit behind the frontline

it doesn’t look so bad
the buildings are still standing
the pavements left untouched
and the flames have made no mark
on the road I took to get here
but it seems too still
too empty

the volunteers have gone
to hot-spots in the hills
where infernos continue a rampage
and the tourists have stayed at home
it still screams ‘dangerous’
in the daily papers

sky is hidden behind a dirty cloud
though the sun must be shining
up where it is blue
for a ball of cut-out orange plasma
is shape changing
restless around a circle
of quivering molten edges
hung forty-five degrees visible
through smog that shrouds
trees and streets and houses
in ghosted pallor
like crept consumption
a white-grey disease

I can smell it on my clothes
it was in the linen I slept on
in the fogging of my dreams last night
the labour of this day
will be to breathe

this isn’t normal
it is an interim becalmed
while people meet in twos and threes
wondering to each other
what will happen if the wind
the gusting fickle blowhard
bastard-hearted wind
of these last desperate days
should turn back

and what will happen here
if no-one comes
as the headlines face away

© Frank Prem, 2003

2 thoughts on “a visit behind the frontline

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