Thursday, October 17, 2013

Highly flammable objects

When we stepped out of the office after lunch to see that the reason the leaves of the trees through the glass had looked such a bright sappy green was that the sun had grown small and shrunken in the sky -- small and shrunken but the colour exactly, as one of us said, of a flame -- and as we googled the whereabouts of these fires that we could smell, which could have been anywhere on any side of the city as the wind from the west was scorched and the cloud in the south, which usually brought any change of weather, and possibly rain, had an underbelly of brown --  Eliza told us about the cicadas she'd seen in Katoomba in the mountains about a month ago: about how in Leura there had not been a single cicada when she'd stayed on the north side of the highway, and yet on the south -- or at least in Katoomba, in the south -- everywhere you went you were bombed by cicadas -- and all down the door jambs on the outside of houses there were shells of cicadas -- and everywhere you put your hand in the garden, even on the stalks of bluebells or the wire of fences: shells -- and there on the footpaths were the eaten out bodies of them, all of them lying prone, exposed -- even the live ones still helpless on the footpaths or crawling, one leg gone, on the roads. As we walked to the cafe we were all thinking about the cicadas, then, even though we continued to relay, one to the other, where the fires were burning according to our phones, and even as the afternoon darkened -- the green of the leaves near the buildings losing their light and the clouds growing purplish orange -- it was hard not to think of the crusts of cicada shells on the houses and the rasp-dry wings on the footpaths in the mountains, and so when got back to our desks with our coffees none of us, probably, had any idea of where the fires actually were -- the places were so numerous and the names unfamiliar -- but the cicadas in Katoomba, we knew: we could see them crawling, and I for one was thinking of them as highly flammable objects -- crawling little incendiary devices for ruining a town.

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