Guess What?

by Iona Mandal aged 12


You loved the smell of forest fires

Sometimes, you would run out

into the open air

and inhale insatiably.

When the fires were milder

You would drag me with you

to the edge of the outback

to show me the stray flames

licking at the bark

barbecuing it like an infernal feast.

I cried each time

not because it hurt me

but because, I thought that

maybe my tears

would extinguish the embers.

I never forgot to look up at the sky

to relieve my pupils of the fiery hues,

where an ash tree loomed over

telling me, the graveyard wasn’t full yet.

That day, I could smell the cinder

As you flung open the windows.

I trudged along the dirt road with you

till we reached a clearing.

I looked up, expecting the ash tree.

Something very similar greeted me:

a pile of ash.

We walked to the hospital after that.

‘At least he doesn’t smoke’,

the doctor said,

handing you a nicotine patch.





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