The Eurobodalla Writers extend a huge thank you to firefighters, emergency and essential services, and volunteers for your dedication and courage over an extended period of time to help our communities.
Emotions raw of survival, of loss, of friendship and community, of a future unknown, of counting your blessings – we hope that everyone is getting the support and comfort in ways that will help you, your loved ones, friends, and community.
Many stories are being told of tragedy, fear, that sliver of hope realised, tenderness, and even laughter and joyful moments in the midst of despair. Thoughts of the summer that wasn’t circulate and press upon memory, and this page on the Eurobodalla Writers’ website will include short stories and poems by members expressing the many and varied impact of the bushfires, and then floods. You can share the link so that others can read, but please respect the writers and don’t copy or share their work.
The dragon breathes out
Spits tongues crimson, tangerine, gold
Devours brittle bush
Black spumes spew forth
Demonic, hellish, apocalyptic
It is 2 am
The eye sees, the ear hears nothing
No power no phone no internet
Embers tossed high spat up like fire crackers
The dragon gorging morphing
Acrid smoke punctures lungs, curdling
Blackened leaves rain down
Strewn like seaweed along the sand
Preparation protection packing
The little brown suitcase – quick!
Precious link to the past
Rattled minds raw hearts stunned
Huddling on beaches, backs to the water
Holding each other in the 2 pm dark
Plugged in again
Some lost everything
Stopped at the gate, took next door
Wildlife incinerated, forests blackened sticks
How to process so much loss
And yet… courage, community and hope
Exhausted fireys return to the fray
Helicopters hammer close by, scoop up water, taming the beast
Homes and pockets open
New shoots spring fluoro green, bright fuzz on scorched trees
A chicken lays its first egg
A wallaby, nursed back to health, returns each evening in thanks
A firey cradles water dragon eggs, from the rubble of a gutted home
© Rosie Toth March 2020
Please Send The Fire Away
At 6.30am on 31st December 2019 the Rural Fire Service sent everyone an urgent phone message: the fire is here, seek shelter or go to the beach.
I fled at once to the local evacuation centre, 2k away. By 10.15 I was sent to a motel in Batemans Bay CBD, 1k away, with a woman I knew slightly, both of us oldies with health issues. At about 12.30 lunchtime the huge glass windows in our room got really hot, the sky was a horrible brown, so we soaked bath towels in case we had to put them over our heads. Suddenly the whole world turned crimson for maybe 30 seconds, then pitch black. We felt our way into our tiny shower room and quietly and calmly said the Lord’s Prayer and the 23rd Psalm repeatedly. We remained like that for 30 or 40 minutes. For the whole time we were in that situation, I felt like we were in a quiet, calm little bubble. We came out when the sky lightened in the tiny window.
On 4th January in the middle of the day, the motel windows started getting hot again. I was alone and went on the verandah and watched the sky go brown again. Motel staff were hosing the trees. I watched a large, horrible, dark brown cloud slowly, determinedly coming towards us from the south. Oh, no, I thought, not again! It kept coming and was almost above us and I spontaneously said aloud “Oh God, please send it away, please send the cloud and fire away, I can’t bear it again, please send the fire away, dear God, please send the cloud away, please send it away!” Immediately I said these words, the cloud stopped in its tracks, then retreated! It did not dissolve, it just went back south, slowly and determinedly, the way it had come! It did so immediately, and very clearly. Fortunately I had the room to myself and was able to thank The Divine aloud, over and over again, in between sobs of relief!
Two days later on the 6th, I was meditating on the motel verandah, the sky a light grey. After meditating, I was just staring vaguely and peacefully at the sky, and suddenly realised I was staring at a sky chock-full of dancing vibrations! The air around me was just chockers with sparkling, dancing vibrations. I sat there in bliss, watching, and quietly thanking God in adoration and gratitude.
NOTE: The sparkling vibrations in the air are called Chaitanya in the Hindu religion.
I have not exaggerated or embellished anything; everything happened exactly as I have written. I went home on the 8th. A few houses on the other side of my suburb were destroyed. My side was untouched. It was wonderful to be back with my meditation corner in my bedroom!
In those nine days alone, some 456 homes were destroyed in Eurobodalla shire, more than a dozen businesses destroyed or badly damaged, and more than 1,000 out-buildings – studios, garages, storage sheds, farm buildings – destroyed. The fires went on to do much more damage during January.
These are only some of my experiences in Batemans Bay from 31 Dec to 8 Jan
© Jennie Mairie 20 March 2020
(as part of the bushfire stories and poems series)
Blazing lights, piercing pain
Frightened screams cry out in vain
Heart beats faster
Cold, scared – disaster
A shadow above – exultation
Monsters in night
Circling demons enter the gloom
Sobs heard from that scary room
Room fills with light – salvation
Banished by the group
No way to recoup
Heart fills with fear
What a toxic atmosphere
Arms that open wide – absolution
Joy to despair
No long a pair
What did I do wrong?
I no longer belong
Nothing can help – desolation
Wheeled chair in rain
Limbs racked with pain
Too late to complain
Radiance above – liberation
© Lalla Barden 19 Feb 2020
Bushfire New Year
but no tobacco
scarlet king parrot’s
reminders of the dark day.
Blood red sun
by glowing orange
on a beach
scanning the sky
for promised wind change
past flame-licked verges
bleeding ash and embers.
Join the crowd
in the dark
more ways than one
but needing to share
rumours of tragedy
not all incorrect.
The world mourns
a lost generation
of unique fauna
but soon hints
as the flora
© Rosemary Patyus 4Mar2020
And through her misshapen form the wind sighs;
Stripped bare of her finery, twisted and worn
A stark lonely shape against the grey dawn
© Margaret Armstrong Feb2020
Scorched – Clyde Mountain
Scorched, silent sentinels stand.
Stoic, stunned, submitting their sap,
Surrendering their souls
To the searing shooting stars of fire.
Now stripped of life’s desire,
Collateral damage in cataclysmic ire.
Black, burnt, beheaded,
Beaten, blazed, betrayed,
Our once flourishing forests,
Fauna, and faithful firefighters
Now furiously flayed.
Waiting, wishing for the welcome Wet,
Our teardrops seeking, beseeching
The heavens to open, and relent,
With rejuvenating, refreshing rain
To restore the forests, the earth,
Our shattered hopes and lives again.
© Bonnie Atteridge Jan 2020