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The life-cycle of fynbos vegetation of the south-western Cape mountains depends on regular fires. People settle on these mountain slopes at their peril.


Pz-avatarby RB Campbell31 Dec 2016

The farmhouse squats, unharmed, below
the grove of scorched gum trees.
A long black stubbly smear
aches at the fire's passing.
And round the edges of the scar,
the bush is seared brown:
a blasted, sterile no-man's land,
bare sticks, the crunch of beetle shells.

That night, they beat it back and saved
the shed and water tanks.
An ash-fall dawn, an acrid taste,
smoke-smeared faces giving thanks.
So who could ask them to believe
this was a temporary reprieve?