Today the spirit moves from the south;
the air is thick as I set out.
A hot wind fans this rugged land,
harsh and sweet as the desert sands.

I walk on ways where five years since,
high flames raged and the smoke was dense.
The pine trees burned, the birds flew fast;
all fled or died as the fire storm passed.

And when the flames were finally quenched
you saw a land where life was wrenched,
a smouldering waste, a landscape scarred,
stone walls scorched and tree stumps charred.

Yet even as people cried and railed
at the turns of fate, at certainties failed,
just as a fever will cleanse the flesh,
there’s a force at work in the land afresh.

As I look on, five years hence,
on these ancient ways where pines were dense,
it’s a strange, hard, beautiful, different world;
a new order begins to unfold.

Vital, clambering, fresh and strong:
a new world of colour and song.
I gaze on the hills in wonder and awe;
tenacity springs from every pore.

The archetypal forest’s plan
is death and rebirth and to Hell with man’s
other designs, his need to control,
ignoring the greater laws of old.

Large pines are gone, juniper too,
the land is rough, the trees are few.
The ones that stand are but hip height,
but all between, a glorious sight.

Now rosemary, lavender and rockrose reign,
butcher’s broom and yellow fleabane,
wild thyme, heather, spiked ivy vine;
each singing a verse to the spirit’s rhyme.

Copyright (c) Robert Hale 2016.

Photo by the author.