I love a sunburnt country,
A land of sweeping plains,
Of ragged mountain ranges,
Of droughts and flooding rains;
I love her far horizons,
I love her jewel-sea,
Her beauty and her terror--
The wide brown land for me!
Above my mantle hangs a replica of a South Australian
pastoral scene. Like cows, kangaroos graze beneath arching white trees. Muted
green, the land rests peacefully in its arid beauty, beckoning me home.
I am an Australian, though I don't fully understand what
that means. Born 26 years ago in a New
South Wales hospital to two American parents, I have dual
citizenship in a country I don’t really know, except for seven years of
childish impressions. I know a bit of its temperate climate, its brogue-ish
tongue, and its endearing people, but I have not lived with it through sorrow.
But when I read the headline “Australia fires toll passes 100,” something within me lurched forward in mournful identity with my second
country—with the man who had to plow over burning gum trees as he watched two
people incinerate in a car behind him … with another man who stifled his tears
as he surveyed the rubble that stood in the place of his farm … with a woman
who wailed as she recounted how her house of 25 years crumbled to the ground
under its fiery weight.
I have often nourished my memory with the Southern
Hemisphere’s sweet heart, its wide-swept plains, aspiring arches, crystalline beaches,
and koala-perched eucalyptus trees. I had forgotten that even here evil minds plot
their ways, and the land wails for her tarnished beauty.
May she find respite for her scorched lands and justice to preserve her dignity.
(Image © AP)