Ancient Fabric

The TV screen panned across the scene to catch
Every angle of that burning.  From this distance
It was difficult to experience the hot crackling, the
Animals screaming, the acrid stench in the air, the
Black dust descending with every swirl of wind.
The atrocity was obvious to all with eyes to see,
But a million TV dinners got in the way, along with
Complacency and a sense that it was all so far away,
Not down our road.  So there was no call to arms,
No general alarm sounded over the town, nobody
Bothered much once the news was switched off.  
Over there, the forest blazed throughout the night, its wildlife died,
And the dusty air became an ashcloud so thick, so pungent,
So truly unpleasant that the choking camera crew
Had to make a run for it.  The tears running down
Their cheeks were not all the consequence of fire.

The next day, on their return for the evening bulletin,
The scene was silent, eerie, a smoking ruin.  Treestumps
Pointed charred fingers at the sky, their silent, crumbly stalks 
Kneehigh in ash thick and deep as snow.  They were hot 
To the touch, brittle, flaking little black shards onto the palm.
The poisoned air they could not swallow, the camera crew, 
Stuffing hankies in their faces to staunch streaming eyes, 
Running noses, to prevent zoom lenses from seeing more.  
The reporter's voice echoed through the quiet black ranks 
And no bird sang while we had our dinners over on
The other side of the world.

Carbon.  Light a torch and all is carbon, aeons of evolution
Reduced to scrapings in the dust.  We cannot wave a wand,
Transform black to green, dead to living, poisoned air to clean.
But not down our road it's not happening, so switch the news
Off.  But that's not what the reporter said.  He talked local
Politics, talked money, signed-off.  And we don't mind.
Over here in our suburbia where trees don't burn, 
Where our poverty is clean, where there are no militiamen,
The ghosts that hover over our beds at night 
Are benign.
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