Lindy Warrell

A  new house in Darwin,
angels twinkle and bells tinkle
on a fresh pine branch in the corner
while fridge and freezer wheeze
with the weight of kabana and beer,
ham, pork and turkey —
all that Christmas cheer.
Clouds glower. A howl of wind
blows visitors home,
and older children hide gifts
under beds as louvered windows shatter.
The roof lifts off.


A whining, whirring, whinnying wind
batters the house of your mind. Rain
pelts, squalls, gusts at regular intervals,
like a runaway train, it pummels
fibro sheets from their moorings.
Metallic sounds scratch, crash and scrape,
splintered homes are whipped and whooshed
in obeisance to a power
that pelts fridges like ping pong balls
and propels cars into water towers
and pools on hotel roofs.

I want to pee says your two-year old,
pee on the bed, you keen as lightening
coruscates the black curtain of tropical stars
and slivers of frozen rain pierce your face.
You lie in the tiny warm puddle.


After thunder, silence —
the storm’s eye.
Will death come tonight?


At dawn, you hustle outside
to a yellow-grey fugue
bereft of birdsong and rustling leaves.
A solitary crier emerges from rubble,
head to the school, he calls, hurry, he warns,
Tracy is turning back.


The stinking disappointment of foul meat, sour milk
melted ice cream and wilted lettuce
rots next to warm booze in fridges across Darwin.
Merry Christmas.
Women pitch in at the shelter,
cook, clean and manufacture nappies
from toilet paper for little ones with the trots.
In the face of disease, you tremble on blankets
beneath giant, jagged guillotines of window glass
loose enough to drop any moment.


Three days and three nights
communications are down,
a doctor hides his skills under blankets
till exposed for stealing a plate of eggs
scrambled with powdered milk for kids.
There is a kerfuffle, but women
and children keep going with measles
while men do what they can,
out and about.


Just as planes come to whisk you away
you hear that someone down the road
was sliced in two by a meteor
of corrugated iron.  You wonder
if it was from your roof,
light a cigarette and pray.


A man in female garb is arrested
as 360 women, children and babies
board a Boeing 727; it’s capacity 180.
Tighten your seatbelts the hosties plead
as the plane’s tail dips; its nose points to heaven
from the weight of the line to the loo.
Laughter erupts.
Even the hosties are scared.

          © Lindy Warrell
              August 2017

Cyclone Tracy devastated Darwin, Australia on Christmas Day in 1974.

Main Location:

Darwin NT, Australia

Other locations:

Darwin, Australia, after Cyclone Tracy in 1974

Creative Commons image by Billibee.