Monks douse saffron robes
with accelerant, exchange prayer beads for a lit match,
and offer themselves as human candles.
Our daughters carve into their skins
like wax engravers, loosing blood
to the river until tender veins rust.
River gums tilt on root axes,
let through flint-sharp slants of sun
so oil-infused leaves buckle and smoulder.
My limping, praying mother resists evacuation
asking, where else there is to go
other than here, other than now.
Trees surrender their arms en masse to a molten sky,
release bark-wombs to ash, and propagate inferno
from sacrificial funeral pyres.
The greed mongers scrabbling for coal would
sever the non-complacent tongue,
lobotomise even the dawn chorus—
And the universe, gagged and bound, must now transmit
in panic code;
Flames flicker and curl, flicker and curl,
poised for plan B.
Listen to Sophia reading ‘Flicker’ (1:35)
Sophia Wilson is an Australian New Zealander. Her poetry/short fiction recently appeared in StylusLit, Ars Medica, Poems in the Waiting Room, Hektoen International, Corpus and elsewhere. In 2019, the manuscript for her first children’s novel, The Guardian of Whale Mountain, was selected in the top ten for Green Stories (UK). She was shortlisted for the 24 Hour National Poetry Competition (NZ) and the Takahē Monica Taylor Prize and was a finalist in the Robert Burns Poetry Competition.
© 2020, text and audio