Playing us

Fire tracks us for days along the city’s edge, like a wild camel on the dune-top, shadowing our movements, waiting for the moment to maraud and rampage in amongst our domestic smallness.

Our bush capital, a recent discordant note in historical time, settlers unsettled in the territory of fire, trespassing in a place claimed by flame. Burning takes its own time, plays its own game forever, makes its own weather.

Emissaries of smoke are sent on each wind change, it glows malevolent on satellite maps, taunts, turns burning fingers towards us, then pulls away, back to the wilderness where we cannot follow,

leaves us breathless, waiting, for the next turn, the next heat spike. It plays, we tense, it threatens, we watch, it runs and storms, we retreat. Days pass … still it tracks along the western hills, looks down on our intruder city.

Smoke covers streets and houses, enters every breathing body, camps out in hair and carpets, hangs between us and the sun. My fire is out there it says, stringing out our dread, playing us, a game of nerves.

Sandra Renew


Listen to Sandra reading ‘Playing us’ (1:55)


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