Land of eucalypts
by Roslyn Ross

In secret, slivered slip of leaf
the frame is put in place,
a languishing of eucalypt;
as perfumed, drifting grace.

The myrtle from the southern land
is born in fire and death,
and drapes the days in waiting
until it burns again.

With serpentine releasing,
its skin is shaken free,
revealing flesh fair beautiful
as bark surrounds the tree.

The moon shines on its purity,
caresses milky trunks,
as phoenix-like she rises
on watered, ancient roots.

Like demons born in torment,
they raise igniting arms,
as if to cry for mercy
when nature calls them home.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: The eucalyptus, while now common in many parts of the world, having been exported for nearly two centuries because of its fast-growing nature, is native to Australia. The smell of eucalyptus, or “gums” as Australians call them, is ubiquitous and redolent of home, and expats over the centuries have carried leaves with them, as evocative reminders and salves for homesickness. The eucalyptus varieties, members of the Myrtle family, are also highly flammable and contribute to the frequent and deadly bushfires which ignite every summer and which are, and always have been, a part of life in Terra Australis. The smell of fresh gum leaves and that of burning gum leaves, is embedded deep in the Australian memory.

PHOTOGRAPH: “Gum Tree and Smoke” (Australia) by Claire Hull. Prints available at


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Roslyn Ross is an Australian writer and poet who currently lives in Africa. She has been writing poetry since she was a child and has also completed five novels and one work of nonfiction.