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Don’t Forget Me. Inside I Scream

A poem about the impact of natural disasters on mental health and a plea to us all to be there for the long haul.

Don’t Forget Me. Inside I Scream.

By Trish Corry

When the last ember dies in a wet embrace.
Don’t forget me. See my face.
As the smoke wisps away to kiss Venus and Mars.
Don’t forget me. For I am scarred.

When you no longer smell burnt earth and hollow bough.
Don’t forget me. My heart, it races now.
As the flames stop burning as hot as the sun.
Don’t forget me. In my mind I run.

When the blades of grass breathe green new life.
Don’t forget me. My anxiety runs rife.
As the sky smears away lipstick of scarlet red.
Don’t forget me. I’m drowning in dread.

When the cool air gently plays upon your ear.
Don’t forget me. Closed spaces I fear.
As the stars dance around a moonbeam so bright.
Don’t forget me. I’m flight, flight, flight.

When my life is no longer a tweet and a meme.
Don’t forget me. Inside I scream.
As the rain washes away the soot in my hair.
Don’t forget me. I’m deep in despair.

When the happiness returns of a brand new day.
Don’t forget me. I push everyone away.
When the birds sing, creatures nestle, and furry eyes peep.
Don’t forget me. I’m in a hole oh so deep.

When my story fades behind other lives on screen.
Don’t forget me. My anger causes a scene.
As my resilience is treasured for the fight I gave.
Don’t forget me. I don’t feel so brave.

When the dew drops fall onto luscious ground.
Don’t forget me. Even my fingertips pound.
As you see new leaves upon sunlight’s kiss.
Don’t forget me. Why am I like this?

When you fly high above me and see colour, not grey.
Don’t forget me. Why won’t these feelings go away?
As the perfume of the bush is a sensory delight.
Don’t forget me. My eyes snap wide open three times a night.

When the fire roared all around me and stole my breath.
You were there when I faced uncertain death.
I have inner scars like tentacles that twist and bend.
I need you for the long haul. Just be my friend.

Help and Recovery – Natural Disasters

“Natural disasters like bushfires, floods, cyclones, drought and other traumatic ‘natural’ events are extremely challenging for the people directly affected. The stress caused following a natural disaster can lead to ‘burnout’ and physical, mental and emotional exhaustion. Some people will be able to manage the stress but for others it may be difficult to cope. Most people eventually heal and recover and go on to rebuild their lives.” (Lifeline)

Please call Lifeline 13 11 14 or see toolkits information and and helplines here –

Recovering After a Natural Disaster

 

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13 comments

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  1. RomeoCharlie29

    Trish, 45 years ago Cyclone Tracy destroyed Darwin. It being a different time such things as PTSD were unidentified, if not unknown. Counselling or other mental health help were unknown. As you note, different people handle traumatic events in different ways. There is a Cyclone Tracy site where those affected can post. All this time later the posts indicate there are many Australians still profoundly affected whose anxieties increase every December 24th. We briefly faced the possibility of a Cyclone (Claudia) this week but it has been downgraded to a tropical low so possibly high winds and heavy rain. Those who experienced Tracy, and several subsequent but less dramatic cyclones, empathise with those now experiencing what I feel must be even worse than a cyclone, the bushfires. Sorry but I couldn’t read the poem.

  2. Vikingduk

    A poem for a poem. Thank you Ralph Steadman.

    City Trader:

    Many years and many taxes
    Oval dreams and endless faxes
    The time has come to pay our dues
    Taken in, moulded in time putty
    Graven slices of pierced flesh
    Open wounds tomato sauces
    Able bodied human spirits
    Laugh outrageous taunts in perfumed lemon groves
    Rattlesnakes don’t rattle like they used to anymore.

    A better way to forget
    Community care
    Throw yourself into the system and milk it dry
    Grind hellos into spent goodbyes
    Piercing the surface of our own appearance
    Shouts of abuse ugly and true
    Cancerous trials of a guilty loner
    Convict on sight
    Shuffling off, unable to reason
    Mumbling screams into black sponges of friendless nights
    Grovelling for help inside capsules of plastic heaven
    Rattlesnakes don’t rattle like they used to anymore

    Hitching en route, guttering into side issues
    Sinking in ditches
    Casting jagged shadows across broken worlds
    Making bridges over ugly gaps
    Between problems and solutions
    Mind gone, nothing there
    Printed circuit voices chatter naked details
    Over plugged in airless webs
    Broadcasting secrets for everybody
    Bouncing off walls
    In punter’s heaven
    Rattlesnakes don’t rattle like they used to anymore

  3. Keitha Granville

    For all of us who have lived through a bushfire event, thank you, to all those who are there to support and who do their best to help.

    It is impossible for anyone to understand, you had to be there.

    To all those currently struggling – you will make it through to the other side, you will. When all seems hopeless, when it seems a hill too steep to climb, lean on your friends, find a forum online, talk to others in your situation.
    United you will stand.

  4. Trish Corry

    That’s fine Romeo and I completely understand if you can’t read it. It comes from a place how I have been feeling having a bush fire just a block or two from home a few years back and cyclones Debbie and Marcia. And numerous major floods. It was Marcia a cat 5 cyclone I won’t ever recover from. I really felt passionate about expressing we need to be there for people for the long haul. I hear you. Take care.

  5. Pilot

    Yes, as a distant observer I remember Cyclone Tracy RC29, what a horror! Our AR Unit was placed on 12hr compulsory standby ready to go, and as Gov employees, we were also on 24hr hot standby, tools ready to go.

    A beautiful poem Trish, absolutely beautiful. The part that pushed it, imo, was not part of the poem, but the lead in:
    “and a plea to us all,
    To be there for the long haul.”

    Thanks.

    RC29, yes it was hard to read, I beg you, please try and read it. It brought tears to these old eyes, but I’d regret it if I didn’t read it.

  6. DrakeN

    Having met, and talked at length with survivors of two world wars, the Korean conflict, the Vietnam debacle and a few non-military disasters (Aberfan for example) you can be sure that for many of them the things which most of us consider to be normal, everyday processes of life are ever present and debilitating challenges which sap the very life force out of them.

    Those of us who have never been challenged by the emotional and mental disruptions which are triggered by the most mundane of occurences will never understand the internal turmoils which such people cope with all and every day and night.

    Your poetry, Trish, deeply reflects this.
    Those of us who can never fully understand what is happening to these folk are duty bound to be kind, patient and caring for their benefit.
    What they are suffering is no fault of their own but consequential on experiences which have resulted in unhealed scars which require only the slightest brush against them to recreate the flow of grief, confusion and, in many cases, guilt that they survived while others did not.

    These fires will induce much the same on-going traumas which, for many, will never fully heal.

  7. paul walter

    Drake M understands it too.

    The PM reckons firies and others involved love it, but I think PTSD will be rampant for years after this. Just reading an article in the Grauniad from a woman who miscarried during the worst of the fires and wonder if she enjoyed these bushfires the way Scott from Marketing reckons.

  8. Michael Taylor

    DrakeN, your comment reminded me of something:

    We had good family friends in Kingscote (Kangaroo Island) who we often visited when we were in town. Dave and Mabs Clark; they were like my second parents.

    Dave fought in Gallipoli during WW1.

    I remember in the mid 60s my oldest brother (who was soon to join the army) asking Dave what Gallipoli was like.

    Dave couldn’t answer. He was crying too much.

    To this day I remember thinking to myself; “What could be so horrible in a man’s life that the thought of it reduces him to tears 50 years later?”

    Memories. They can burn deep.

  9. DrakeN

    Michael T, many of my mentors when I first worked in the aviation industry were ex WWII pilots, mostly Bomber Command.

    Many would never speak about their experiences, especially those who were tasked to the Dresden raid but more particularly the couple of blokes who had conducted photo reconnaisance the following day.
    One of them got retired early due to inconsistencies in his behaviour, another suicided.
    Broken marriages were ‘par for the course’ and those that remained together often slept in seperate accommodations due to the noisy recurrent nightmare disturbing the partner’s sleep.

    They were some of the kindest, most supportive individuals that a sprog could ever hope for.

  10. Michael Taylor

    DrakeN, my Dad spent nearly two years in New Guinea during the war but I was lucky if he ever spoke two words about it.

    I met a bloke who was writing a book about the war in New Guinea and he said the silence was his biggest obstacle.

    Back to my Dad, who like many of the other soldiers settlers on KI, alcohol was their only companion.

  11. Kaye Lee

    Dad was in New Guinea too. Alcohol and gambling when he got back. He was a good man who helped countless others, but there was a live for the moment air about him. And he wouldn’t talk about it either, though I do now know a couple of horrific stories that would not be appropriate to share. Suffice to say, no-one could escape being scarred by them.

    The desperate prolonged fight against these fires will certainly take a great toll….it hits home harder after it is over.

  12. wam

    I have cleared after tracy where the trauma was powerful and the damage great but most was simply gone and no longer there.
    I went to katherine after flood, to help in the clean up, at the school of the air and it was so utterly sad everything was there to see, to touch but it was absolute ruined. Everything recognisable but nothing usable. Fires make the third and most traumatic of disasters everything there unrecognisable and utterly destroyed.
    Dear trish your poem is beautiful and moved me to dig up an awful attempt of mine.
    Unfortunately, I have not the vocab to produce coherent prose much less poetry but the story has meaning for me.
    How lucky am I to have listened to a lovely man
    A big brother to dad, my uncle stan
    the smile and laugh was bon homme
    the eyes were those of the bitter somme
    I saw my dad only a generation ahead
    two beautiful men with brain blocks
    two caring men containing shocks
    I saw the effect of all hidden harm
    so often covered by an outward charm
    on mothers and kids of my early teaching
    the anxious eyes beseeching
    please understand it’s not his fault.
    Then came those by the marble caught
    whose courage and trauma was for nought
    when they came home to clapless stares
    and we attended funerals for them and theirs

    Maybe, some of you oldies can share my memory of the barn dances, where very large, incredibly soft bodied, widows would waltz the young boys around the floor on unbelievably light feet.
    ps drakeN, your words reminded me of keith miller when asked about pressure in cricket. ‘Real pressure is when you are flying a Mosquito with a Messerschmitt up your arse.’

  13. Trish Corry

    Your poem is beautiful Wam. It comes from a deep and pure place of emotion. Thank you for sharing.

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