Return

Sweaty hands are on the wheel
Gripping tightly
And yet they seem
Not a part of

Me

A red band circles my wrist
My passport home, it identifies me
Allows my return
Where others are

                    Forbidden

Home
A restricted place
Crime scene
A place of destroyed

       Lives

Past the roadblock
Solemn faces, pursed lips
Flashing lights
Harbingers of

Doom

Black tarmac winds up the hill
And appears, at first
Familiar, reassuring
I am going

   Home

And then as I round a bend
A black line
Demarcation
Path of the

   Inferno

Past smoldering trees
Blackened men
Wielding chainsaws
Clearing the road for safe

    Passage

First of the cars, burnt wrecks
Where I had earlier driven
Some with ribbons
There had been no

Escape

Climbing further
Moving ever so slowly
Ghostly forest
Blackened poles standing in

                         Ash

And then it was green
A verdant oasis
An island
Normality surrounded by

Chaos

Impossible to comprehend
My own home
I knew destroyed
Yet so many

         Unharmed

Almost insulting
A derelict house
Fallen down shed
Still standing

  Defiant

Out of the oasis
Another world
Complete destruction
Amongst it my

Home

A last right turn
A country lane
So altered
That I almost drive

         Past

A neighbour’s pony
Lies on the road
Charred hooves
Mouth in a deathly

      Rictus

Heart hammering
Breath shallow
Thoughts whirling
I approach the

         Threshold

Heart
Breath
Thoughts
All of them

  Pause

Before me
Mud brick walls, strangely intact
Roof lying
Where the floor used to

 Be

Among the debris
Twisted birdcages
Occupants
Evaporated by the intense

    Heat

Familiar objects now
Ghostly apparitions
Melted windows
Car wheels now modern

 Sculpture

Piles of acrid ash
Charred wood
Blanket the ground
Obscuring all that could be of

Value

And then
Unable to withstand
Any more
I cross the road to say

  Hello

Climbing the drive
Trees still smoking
On either side
I can hardly see for my

Tears

Our neighbour’s home
Still proudly standing
Testament to the fight
Of three brave

     Men

And one of those men
Greets me now
And calls my dogs
To welcome me

  Home

He tells me of
Those things
That I must hear
But would rather

  Not

Together we cook
Pasta, tuna sauce
And eat all together
As though we are

Home

Sooty dogs are in the car
Farewells have been said
The engine is running
But I don’t want to

  Leave

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