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Poem: Fire of Australia

Books & Poetry

In this week’s Poet’s Corner, Elaine Barker reflects on the creation of the world’s finest uncut opal, the 1kg Fire of Australia mined in South Australia’s Coober Pedy in 1946 and now part of the SA Museum’s collection.

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Fire of Australia

collection, South Australian Museum

Among those roaming people, first in the land,
many found meaning in opal.
Some believed it was flung from the sky
in lightning strikes, compressed flame.
Scorched colours of crimson and coral,
pinpoint flashes of blue and green
are spilling out to merge
and dance over this rock’s pale surface,
lustrous, adamantine.

In the museum we learn how silica and water
once filled cracks and crevices in the earth
and over time these spaces turned
coolly brilliant and opaline.

And yet I warm to those simple myths
that say that opal was a gift from above,
how it was shot to earth –
a likeness of living fire.
The rainbow colours fuse,
intermingle and coalesce
while the pearly haze caught in this stone
can be seen in the mists of early morning
so linking country with sky.

Elaine Barker was an original contributor to Poet’s Corner in its Independent Weekly print days. A former librarian, she holds a Master of Arts from the University of Adelaide, has run creative writing courses, and seen her own short stories and poems appear in various outlets in Australia. She has received the Friendly Street Poets Satura Prize on two occasions, published three collections of her poetry, and is currently working on a fourth.

Readers’ original and unpublished poems of up to 40 lines can be emailed, with postal address, to Submissions should be in the body of the email, not as attachments. A poetry book will be awarded to each accepted contributor.

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