Smoke


Smoke

These weeks becoming months 
the clouded horizon merely thickens or thins –
not with cloud, with smoke. It isn't true
that smoke's evanescent, ethereal. Not this smoke.
It blots out the sky; fluctuates, fades a trifle,
only to come back denser, higher, closer.
Where there's this smoke, there are certainly 
fires; we can smell them. On our screens 
we see them tower, spread, engulf.

We live with it, begin to stop mentioning its presence
to each other, knowing others in areas around us
are worse off, this little town so far spared,
although some smaller burns come close
before being dowsed. Meanwhile we stockpile
face masks, pack our emergency bags, conserve water
(even before restrictions are announced).
My own breathing remains unaffected – because,
paradoxically, I already need to use an inhaler daily.

Eventually, as time goes on, I notice
I no longer have to glance at the horizon
in order to know when the haze presses close
or lifts a little. It has entered into me,
part of my person. I walk not as myself alone, 
not only as myself: I walk carrying the being of smoke.
It lives inside me, I know it intimately.
Everyone who lives here would say the same.
I have become, I am, the embodiment of smoke.







Written in response to Weekend Mini-Challenge: 13 Poetic Bits of Kerry at 'imaginary garden with real toads', using a line, 'I am the embodiment of smoke', taken from Kerry O'Connor's poem Fortress of Dreams

I live in one of the several parts of Australia where huge fires have been raging nearby for weeks – though not quite as close as in some other places.

Comments

  1. This is incredibly strong writing, Rosemary! I could taste the smoke and feel the words; " It blots out the sky; fluctuates, fades a trifle, only to come back denser, higher, closer."

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    Replies
    1. I hope and pray you may only experience it vicariously.

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  2. I can see this being a page in a book that tells the story of a world that is growing too hot. I can see the breathing apparatuses lurking inside the lines, the sweat smelling of smoke... smoke getting close and personal and invasive.

    And I can totally see why you used the punctuation.

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    Replies
    1. Oh yes, it's a page in that book – which we've all been writing.

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  3. My friend in Bateman’s Bay is ready to go should it be necessary ... stay safe. Your poem gave me a real sense of how you are dealing with the fires.

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    Replies
    1. We are all staying as safe as we can. In some cases that is limited.

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  4. It has entered into me,
    part of my person. I walk not as myself alone,
    not only as myself: I walk carrying the being of smoke.
    It lives inside me, I know it intimately.

    I can't explain how these lines affect me, Rosemary. I think daily of the unremitting fires burning up Australia. It fills me with such pain at the thought of suffering - that of people and animals and habitat. That the smoke must now become a way of life is an appalling prospect for the future. I did not expect my words to resonate on such a literal level when I wrote them however long ago, but they have given rise to a most thought-provoking poem. Thank you.

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    Replies
    1. Yes, your line is very different in your starkly beautiful poem, which I loved reading. And, though you couldn't have foreseen, I'm grateful to you for writing it and Magaly for choosing it just at this time when it proved so useful, enabling me to articulate something of what it is like here at present.

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  5. I have been horrified seeing news of this on tv and on line. I can't imagine being faced with it close up.

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  6. *hugs* The US has been having some horrible fires in California too. Every day the evidence of humanity's short-sightedness piles up around us, and yet people refuse to see it.

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    Replies
    1. Yes, I have an Australian friend who lives in California, so I am very aware of what happens there too. Hard to understand how some people remain in denial as the evidence proliferates.

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  7. I imagine it is hard to think of much else, with the apocalypse happening so close by. I remember when wildfires came to Port when I lived there and how eerie the skies were. I hope rain comes and stops the devastation, my friend.

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    Replies
    1. It has come, a coupe of times recently – but so little, so brief. This is the first time in 25 years of living here that my town has had water restrictions.

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  8. We had fires around here - I think it was two years ago - the haze, the smell - it invaded everything. Nothing compared to Australia and California - but I understand what you wrote here.

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    Replies
    1. I fear many more of us everywhere may experience it in times to come.

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  9. The smoke is all-pervading, Rosemary, and you’ve brought it into my very chilly study this Sunday morning. The way you describe the smoke makes it almost palpable:
    ‘It blots out the sky; fluctuates, fades a trifle,
    only to come back denser, higher, closer’
    and
    ‘I no longer have to glance at the horizon
    in order to know when the haze presses close
    or lifts a little. It has entered into me,
    part of my person. I walk not as myself alone,
    not only as myself: I walk carrying the being of smoke.’

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's also the way it goes on and on and on ... weeks already.

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  10. I want this to be fiction. Sending love, Rosemary.

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  11. I have only sensed something similar once, a few years ago when for a few days we sensed that smoke of wildfires all the way here... but even then I can understand how the smoke becomes part of your being...

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    Replies
    1. Not only so all-pervasive, but also so very long-lasting.

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  12. I remember our drought fires hear in Texas several years back. It was like a smoky bar turning your skin, hair, clothing into ash tray remains. You have described it perfectly. For a time after the flames are gone the smoke path will not surrender its scent.

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    Replies
    1. And it's only December here, the coolest of our Summer months.

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  13. Awful situation, Rosemary. And smoke and its meaning does linger.

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  14. I wish, I could send some of the excess water from Lake Ontario, your way, Rosemary. As 2 of the past 3 years, we have experienced record levels for the water, here. I hope, the next time that Australians vote federally, you send the current government packing.

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