This Sunburnt Country [After Dorothea]

By Rachel Flynn


We fly across our country, a patchwork knit from skeins,

of ragged mountain ranges and endless sweeping plains.

We gaze her far horizons, and swim her emerald sea.

Those misty sapphire mountains, that wide blue sky for me.


The blinding flash of lightning, a rolling storm again,

we love the smell of ozone before the drumming rain.

That veil of filmy greenness will spread across the place

and tip the eucalyptus with ragged blossom lace.


That’s the beauty, now the terror:


Core of my heart, this country, what have we done to you?

The wide brown land will fracture, the sky a brutal blue.

That golden hush at midday will blister to a blaze.

The hot north wind will drive it, a greedy scorching rage.


Core of my heart, my country, our ancient land of gold;

now when the grey clouds gather we’ll get it back tenfold.

The steady soaking rain, that Dorothea loved,

will weep across the mountains then roar into a flood.


Those golden sands will vanish into the rising sea.

The droughts will kill the fauna, nowhere for them to flee.

This brown land will reject us, will shrug us off in time,

with flood and fire and famine, payback for our crime.


Then who will hear the bellbird, or stand among the trees,

or hike the ragged ranges, or swim the emerald seas?

And who will feel the sunshine or smell the drumming rain,

or see the knitted landscape, as we did from the plane?


Photo by Brad Helmink on Unsplash