That summer made the suburbs seem a war zone.
Smoke columns appeared on the horizon
as if resulting from an explosion.
No-one could obtain much information
about the smoke which rose on the horizon.
One’s best guess would be that there were bushfires,
but nobody had given out information
as to the events in neighbouring shires.
Most assumed the smoke had come from bushfires
ignited by the summer’s ceaseless heat
somewhere among nearby woodland shires,
but rumours which were passed along the street
suggested it was more than summer’s heat
which sent those columns mounting in the sky.
There were all sorts of rumours in the street.
For many months the weather had been dry,
yet those columns of smoke which lined the sky
were circled by dark army helicopters.
The weather continued to be hot and dry,
and leaves in gardens turned as brown as leather.
Ominously circling helicopters
grazed the treetops beside the city ring-road.
Magnolia leaves the colour of leather
drooped from a tree which appeared to be dead.
Burning forests surrounded the ring-road.
Newly cleaned garments were freckled with ash.
Many trees in the gardens appeared dead.
Housekeepers scarcely dared hang out the wash.
Airways had been choked on the scent of ash,
but then a surprising cool change arrived,
and rain came to wash dry lawns, and to wash
the trees which could surely not have survived.
A soothing yet storm-bristling change arrived
in that summer which became a war zone.
We thought our magnolia had not survived
before it put forth blooms like an explosion.