The face of the chief rose above the naked arms of the trees. Her body of smoke illuminating the burnt forest below. Beneath her, squirrels dropped their nuts and ran to keep ahead of the flames. Rabbits and mice dug deeper into the earth to find refuge from the heat, while the beetles clung to the bark and burned. The deer and coyote had left when the first ember crunched the dry leaves with its orange teeth, but where was man?
“Wake, my children. Wake and see what you have done.”
Her words came from the voice of no sound. Rising from the heart of Earth, they broke the barrier of time and space as they wove into the membranes of deaf ears where their vibration was felt in the cells, stirring the unease of truth inside bodies that had become numb.
“Wake and remember.”
Her specter rose with the smoke until it filled the black night.
No one saw her, save for one. A girl-child had lingered, letting go of her father’s hand as he pulled her to safety. And, somehow in his hurry, he had released her while he chased after fear. She stood defiant against the blaze as she gazed up at the ghost of her ancestor. Listening to words no one else could hear.
“I hear you, Mother,” she shouted her voice into the night, lifting her words to the sky. “I am here.”
I wrote this inspired by Sue Vincent’s prompt, #Fume, in honor of Suzanne at Being in Nature, whose passionate plea for change fills the pages of her blog. She lives in Australia where wildfires are devastating the land and the life that depends upon it. She shares my sentiment that it is imperative that we acknowledge the effects of climate change and make real efforts to slow it down.