‘I think it matters that we did something,’ Katherine said, not looking at me but at the camp stove, the lid rattling as the water started to boil. ‘Doesn’t it? We did what we could.’ We sat side by side, our backs to the horizon’s glow—burning bushland against a darkly bruised and clouded sunset. They still hadn’t contained the fire on its eastern front.
I thought of blackened fields, and the countless spiders and other crawling insects that only became visible after the fires passed, once the grass had been burnt to the crowns. They were pink as cooked lobsters, clambering over ground that still smoked in places. I imagined the hidden fires, the ones that burrowed through tree roots, that would keep burning long after the fire front finally wore itself out.
Embrace Australia’s finest writers: subscribe to Meanjin
Subscriptions start at just $5 a month — which goes directly towards our writers’ fees.