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Fire! (published in Anna the Goanna 2000)

Jill McDougall


Old Kangaroo and his mate Cockatoo

were travelling south

where the icy winds blew.

As night came around,

they found some flat ground

in the shade of a cave

where the river gums grew.


“It’s freezing down here,”

grumbled Old Kangaroo.

“But I’ll make a good fire

to warm us right through.

I’ve never seen trees

As enormous as these,

I’m sure I can find us a big log or two.”


So into the bush

Hopped Old Kangaroo,

Straight to the place

Where the biggest trees grew.

He was back in a while

With a humungous pile,

“This is great,” said his mate, “cos I’m shivering too.”


Then Old Kangaroo and his mate Cockatoo

fetched small sticks and big sticks

and old sticks and new.

They even took leaves

from the bushes and trees.

“This will soon warm our bones,” laughed the triumphant two.


As the fire came alive,

the old fellows threw

more branches, more logs,

and a giant tree or two.

Way up on high

they could see the sparks fly.

“I’m feeling much warmer,” said Old Kangaroo.


Then down from the ranges,

a little breeze blew,

and it whistled and whined

through the trees as it grew.

Soon everywhere

in the hot smoky air,

sparks from the roaring fire floated and flew.


“Now I’m … ouch! … much too hot,

complained Old Kangaroo,

“Well my feathers are melting,”

cried poor Cockatoo.

And as a fresh breeze

carried sparks to the trees,

the two silly friends were beginning to stew.


“Bushfire!” At last cried one of the two,

“Everything’s burning!

What are we to do?”

But try as they might,

it was too late to fight,

for feathers and fur were burning up too.


Yes, feathers and fur were burning up too –

Nothing was saved

as the fire roared through.

All the birds and the bees,

all the bushes and trees,

all the creatures that lived there,

had perished there too.


*   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *


Many years later, a young kangaroo,

was travelling south

with his mate Cockatoo.

They stopped at the scene

where the fire had been,

and decided to camp

where the river gums grew.


“I’m shaking with cold,”

said one of the two.

“Let’s have a fire

to warm us right through.

I’ll get some sticks,

and a few little bits.

We don’t need too much –

just a small fire will do.”


Jill McDougall


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