by Merlene Fawdry

No koalas here in the place of mine,
no spot-tailed quoll or common wambenger
remain, behind the fringe
of spindle-limbed eucalypts
and stunted blackwood
that fan the roadside,
a veil to the scene beyond,
where matchsticks splinter hills of waste.
A different litter remains
on these wombat hills,
sun-scorched and aglow
in lethal illumination,
gone are the eco-creatures
that lived in the realm of shadow,
the cracks and crevices of their habitat
expunged by the bulldozer’s blade.

The last rufous and golden whistlers,
scarlet robin and masked owl have flown
wings dipped in thermal salute,
a memory flight of what used to be
before the machines came, to
honour the fallen, the displaced,
the diminishing species,
Satinwood and Wombat Bossiaea
consigned as memories on a botanist’s page.

No koalas here, where mighty gums once stood
gone in a eucalypt smudge,
a misty wraith that shares my grief
at the devastation before me,
where spindle-limbed eucalypts
and stunted blackwood
that fan the roadside, fail to hide
the open wounds of loss.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: Wombat Forest is reputed to be named after the Wombat township now known as Daylesford, the spa capital of Victoria [Australia]. The forest has been logged since the gold rush era of the mid 1800s and ongoing forestry practice has thinned the blackwood and mighty eucalypts of the area. The subsequent disappearance of the understorey of climbers, native herbs, grasses, rushes, sedges, and aquatics has endangered the swampy riparian shrubland, woodland, and streambank ecosystems. This is the place of my belonging, and the inspiration for this poem came when I was driving along the Ballan/Daylesford Road. Looking beyond the deception of trees that lined the road to the blank hills beyond, I felt extreme anger and sadness, as if part of me had been lost to the bulldozer’s blade.

IMAGE: “Confused Koala Discovers His Home Has Been Cut Down.”


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Merlene Fawdry is a writer and poet, author of five books and several books of poetry. She lives in a small town in rural Australia,where she enjoys the diversity of writing poetry, nonfiction, and fiction, and provides an editing, manuscript preparation, and writer mentoring service. She has a strong interest in social justice and the environment and reflects in much of her writing. She maintains a blog @Merlene Fawdry and welcomes comments on her posts.