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February 15, 2016

Winds roar and the bushfires blaze – it’s been going on for weeks now. The weather on the weekend was dry and intense, the sun hidden all day behind the smoke. The sky was white, the white of cumulus clouds, but closed in tight like one of those grey, misty days. It was hot, for here. At 6.30pm on Saturday, whilst picking up my fish and chips, I saw the sun for the first time. It was startling: lolly red, and without any eye-flinching brightness – a great flat lolly without the stick just hanging in the sky. Amazing. And the light reminded me of the almost-total eclipse when I was at Auburn in ’76 on prac.

February bushfire light from the front step

February bushfire light from the front step

I came home and started to fiddle with the words (on paper because I don’t have to think about forming the words and I can splatter them, draw arrows, cross out and keep it there at the same time). It commended itself to a haiku because it was such a sharp, singular experience and I love the challenge of putting meaning together with the slightest wordage. No more red suns, but the smoke, the light and the wind continue to vary.

In this post, I have set down the chronological word-steps leading to the haiku as it stands at this point in its development. I am not satisfied yet with it – usually I never am and no-one else sees them – so I don’t present it as an icon of the form! My purpose in revealing the contents of my discard pile is to show that writing is a process, nothing magical, and often slow – at which point they often smile and nod as if to say ‘Yeah, yeah, whatever, but you’ve got talent and I ain’t.’

(Because of the automatic double space on <Enter>, I have used </> to indicate a new line. There’s probably a way around it but, as with waiting until the poem is finished, if I wait until I learn that this will not see the light of day!

White sky bronzed [bronzey] light / Ancient wood smaoke / Afternoon sun hangs [bright] red

 Dry lightning storm  [a month ago] / Winds and gales for a month / The sun hangs red

Sky is white, dusty / at the far [closed-in] edges [horizons]

Blazes lightning struck / Dry wind spread through ancient woods – [Ancient forests turn skies white] / and the sun hangs red.

 [In white sky, red sun] / Ancient forests blaze [to death] / Roaring winds smoke  [the sky white] / and the sun hangs red. 

 Silence. / Bronzed light / tight horizon

White sky bronzed [bronzey] light / Ancient wood smoke / Afternoon sun hangs [bright] red

Bronzey morning light / High winds, ancient wood smoke white / Afternoon sun bright red

(… and now for the next draft which has arisen from writing the exegesis above:)

Ancient wood smoke white / Tight horizon, bronzey light – / High sun lolly red.

I’ll leave it there and keep watching the sky. Let’s hope that Hughie drops a bucket on the west of the state in the next weather change.