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When the first rain comes

Elanna Herbert

1 March 2020

it is pathetic.
Thin, patchy the phlegm
of an old man, worn out
with coughing.

Where was this two weeks ago?
Now, a burnt land
sops it up. Trickles it to the creek
with distain. Even the lake is
flaccid, flagging, foul. Fire weary.

Rain – this pathetic latecomer, has the temerity to
crawl, into colorbond carcases of homes, softening
asbestos walls splintered into myriad pieces of
‘70s coastal modernism, to layer rust over
the remains of cars, which pissed out
their aluminium in a gust
of heat
when left alone, parked on
the street, in the garage, alongside the pile
of bricks which was the side of a house.

“Too late to leave” – has no meaning as I piece
together our steps on that day with the remains of fire’s
tracks. I should read its path, but I have no
Indigenous connection with country. I never learnt fire.

Much to my disgrace. And this rain will wash over
tracks, too soon a blush of green will obscure
the fear
until the wind picks up iron roof slabs, balanced
delicately, a child’s school project, folded steel cardboard
over a brick laundry of the house next door. The once
roof creaks and groans each opportunity it gets, taken
by a glance of breeze. These are:

the ship’s noises in a disaster movie, just before she sinks
drowning the crew in a flood of water which
crashes through the scorched wound
which was the hull.

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