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.