Yesterday was infernally hot, and not too far away in the pine forests of the Gironde, it was an inferno. The inferno continues, and cooler is only relative to unbearable. The warblers are singing again and the wood pigeons are cooing their soothing verses, but there is still no rain.
There will be violent storms this evening, but bringing only thunder and lightning and high winds. The red heat alert has moved to wildfire alert, the lightning of a rainless storm could start a conflagration anywhere in these tinderdry lands.
Iโ€™m tired of hearing silence, the climate disaster nowhere on the political agenda. The cost of living ie the cost of petrol, is so much more important than the reality of dying.
Our world is burning, our home, but we cheer on the Tour de France and argue about pronouns and the weight of the average school satchel.
Iโ€™m tired of hearing only the crackling of the flames.

Why do birds sing
when the sky reflects only the anger
of the parched earth
shrunken and cracked yawning wounds
and the crisp brown of tinder?

Why do the wood pigeons
persist in feeding their chicks
among the fringed leaves of the mimosa tree
when the sun is a demon
and the stream has run dry?

Being only human, I have no answer,
know nothing of giving so much
and expecting nothing in return.
I know only how to take,
to start the fires.

Published by

Jane Dougherty

I used to do lots of things I didn't much enjoy. Now I am officially a writer. It's what I always wanted to be.

43 thoughts on “Screaming”

  1. I’ve been following the news about the fires and high temperatures in Europe. I can’t even imagine. It’s hot and humid in Michigan this week as well… but we have air conditioning. My heart hurts for all of you in the midst of these wild fires. ๐Ÿ’œ

    1. It’s not so much the heat, it’s the fires. Everything is so dry, the slightest spark starts a fire. We had the smell of burning and clouds of smoke blowing over this evening and there’s no rain forecast, just electric storms and more wildfire warnings. This will be another sleepless night with one eye on the sky.

      1. We do… all of us. I have heavy drapes on my windows that I keep closed in the summer to block the sun which heats up the upstairs rooms. In the winter, I do the reverse. Simple changes like that help us conserve energy and embrace it at the same time.

      1. Yes, and some countries will face far greater hardship than others. The Ganges delta flooding will displace millions for example. It’s all very well for people in the US saying we won’t tolerate any changes to the Amercian way of life, they’ll keep on consuming what’s produced in the rest of the world, but when the climate goes belly up, they won’t be the ones taking the refugees.

      2. We are actually a disaster waiting to happen. Assam gets flooded every year, Mumbai is gradually being eroded…too many areas get no rainfall…and we continue to dream of migrating to the US.

      3. I, actually, harbour no such dreams but a lot of youngsters do. Earlier only brilliant ones with scholarship went, now they take loans to fuel their dreams.

  2. The birds do what we do: carrying on writing, feeding – one can’t just sit and wait for the end. Most certainly we’d go mad. Be safe as you can. I suppose you got a bag packed, the car full of fuel if you had to run for it.

    1. We’ve got a few essentials to hand just in case, car filled up. Getting the cats in their travelling baskets is where we’d lose the most time. Let’s hope it doesn’t come to that. At least the electric storms seem to be off the agenda for the moment. Scary though. When you get the smoke and smell the burning…

    1. Yes, the local networks keep us up to date with the outbreaks. So far they’ve been controlled within 24 hours by the fire department. If we needed more than that, it’s doubtful we’d get it. The troops are all mobilised for the huge blazes. Our local animal shelter asked for help evacuating the animals as they were close to a blaze and it’s densely forested. By the time I saw their shout out they already had offers to take all the animals! It’s amazing. On the one hand you have the people who abandon their pets, on the other you have the people who offer to give packs of dogs and families of cats house room.

    1. Nearest small town, I suppose. We’d have to follow directions. There’d be some municipal building, school probably, to take refugees though I don’t know what people do with their pets in these circumstances.

      1. Wish I could invite you to where I am. Still okay here. Had several severe floods in KwaZulu Natal, far from here. I’ve thought of stashing sandbags so if there’s severe rain the house won’t flood. No point in case of a runaway fire. Just had firebreaks all around to protect the plantations so ne feels somewhat secure. For the time being anyway.

      2. I don’t think anywhere is ‘safe’ any more. Everywhere is going to get extreme weather conditions in the end, sooner rather than later. We’ve had nothing like this before though there have always been a few isolated wildfires in the summer, easily controlled. Flooding’s the same. The rain isn’t regular. It comes all at once and the rivers can’t cope, overflow. Firebreaks are all you can do if you’re in a wooded area, and make sure your valuables are not on the ground floor if you’re in a flood zone. I hope your sandbags are effective!

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