I’m on the walking track looking out over a lake untidy with debris from the firestorm, but quiet now, recovering beneath a gentle sun. Around its edge, broken shadows of blackened trees refract through silver-grey, ash-laden water. A bellbird chimes insistently across the surface. No response. The burnt coconut husk of a boat lies marooned in shoreline mud, Yin and Yang displaying in a strip of untouched paint.
After days of rain, the fire is defeated. I’m so tired, but pure blue sky lifts my head. The air is nectar-sweet with a lingering caramel aftertaste; a deep-breathing gift in the aftershock of numbness, exhaustion, survivor guilt, injury and loss.
under torched bark
birth green leaves
I looked in the mirror this morning.
Differently. Not to search for a bothersome
mole or signs of shaving disaster,
but more as an experiment. I imagined
meeting this man in the mirror for the first time;
to observe myself as another,
the way other people see me.
G’day, Logan, I said, changing my name
because this person was no longer
that left-right, reversed almost-replica,
but a stranger standing in front of me.
I studied Logan closely, but not overmuch,
for that would be rude. He seemed pleasant
enough, lined face, careful hazel eyes,
sharp nose, similar clothes to what I would wear,
which was a worrying start.
I extended my right hand and Logan
simultaneously offered his left,
but no matter what we tried
a handshake seemed impossible
in this mirror world; so, in the interests
of courtesy, we just waved (in sync),
and both smiled at the exact same nanosecond,
vanquishing all that awkwardness.
Satisfied with our brief introduction,
we pivoted 180 and returned
to our respective worlds.
I’m sure he felt the way I did,
Logan, this man in the mirror,
that we could make a go of it;
even at first glance, there was
so much in common between us.
Although, on reflection, that moustache
—what was he thinking!