It’s Not the Same World
It feels now,
as if we are just waiting.
My world is the same old safe,
and I make the same arguments
to explain some things.
The past is co-operatively fuzzy,
re just how many bushfires,
how much flooding.
sparrows like wallpaper.
Australia is old,
history recorded in scarred trunks and
bright green shoots in charcoal,
old white markers on roadsides,
marking water levels from past
And there are, in my lifetime,
but back then,
icebergs weren’t melting,
polar bears were making it.
Back then, our gardens murmured,
bees stop-starting, smothering
ground grass and bush,
and sparrows monopolised
to the point of invisibility.
Now, outside my room,
bees rare, sparrows gone –
when did the sparrows go!
the whole world wasn’t burning.
Just us, our country
which has always burnt.
But when it’s not just us,
and it’s alight for months.
Our flames, too, an unleashing of hell.
Inferno is too small a word that fill the skies.
Heaving, it makes you think of
smart photography, movie sets,
excepts it’s the news…
I fight the helpless, knowing
it’s not the same,
it’s not the same,
it’s not the same.
I am a gardener. Wherever I leave, I leave a garden. I am surrounded by small blocks with house walls crowded close to fences and no or minimal gardening space. I make my gardens now for local wildlife, birds, skinks, once, a frog, and especially the bees. There are no sparrows, and few bees. I remember when there would be a frog under every rock and log in my mother’s garden.
Two Summers ago, a freak storm battered my small town and my home, a rain dump sent a sea of waters flooding down my backyard and through my back door, under the house and down to lick at the windows of the house opposite. Ice was piled against the walls, trees broken, and bushes torn to shreds. I stood in the eerie peace afterwards, mesmerised by what I was seeing, and I remember suddenly realising that the storm was Mother Nature’s child too, and she will survive.
I used to love storms, and part of me still does. But our Summer begins soon yet it’s been raining heavily for five days. And we are headed for a scarily hot predicted Summer, and a second El Nino.
What I have seen unfolding over the past few decades is the undisputable fact that things are getting worse. Everywhere, every day. It’s terrifying.
I have been composting and recycling for years. I once believed science and commonsense would alter the current trajectory of ongoing, massive-scale damage. I imagined scientific advancements. I imagined sensible decision-making. I imagined a genuine prioritising of environmental damage prevention.
Now I feel as if I am in limbo, sinking in quicksand. I cannot move to a place where what I do will make any difference. I look at my children and my grandson and I am afraid for them.
We don’t talk about fear, yet we talk about everything else: The lies of mining companies; the machinations of a government more intent on protecting the current economic status quo; the same government failing to protect those it governs from destructive funding and policies.
Facing what is happening, and helping, is overwhelming. I am surrounded by good people who still, in their daily activities, do the wrong things. They buy single-use plastic. They waste power. They have unnecessarily large cars, too much food, too much clothing. Their must-have attitude is an addiction, not a need.
We need our leaders to lead with environmental-economic wisdom. We need them to genuinely care. But they don’t.
Rhonda is a retired librarian, a grandmother, gardener and lifelong writer and poet living in a small town in Central Victoria, Australia.
As I write this, Northern and Western Australia has already started to burn and there is flooding in parts of Eastern Victoria that have never flooded before. The coming summer is already being predicted as one of the worst ever. I grew up on a farm and have known weather’s extremes all my life. What stuns me these days is how out of kilter everything is and has been for several years now. I look at my adult children and my grandson. Once, I wished for them work that was fulfilling, a home of their own and someone to love. I now want for them leaders who put life before profit, ones who do not condemn them to an unsafe and uncertain future.