Burnt Earth

Under the dry summer’s brilliant
blue skies grassy paddocks had
burned to sienna brown across
the north of our South Island.
Farmers had mowed those paddocks
to retain their last vestiges
of fodder for sheep and cattle.

Sparks flew as blades hit
stray stones in the soil
setting alight dry grass
shelter belt trees, pine plantations
all consumed by roaring flames.

For days firemen’s hoses played
over vast acres of flames
helicopters flew endlessly in
from the ocean emptying monsoon
buckets over the fires saving
houses but not all animals.

Evacuees waited for days in
town to go home again only
finding out the fates of their
homes and animals after
police escorted them home.

Burnt Earth