(Tearless skies over Portugal)

Would water
its place ((Throughout October much of central Portugal was in flames. In August, a previous fire in the region of Pedrogau during the summer took even the lives of those fleeing, several of whom were burned alive in their cars on isolated rural roads. Portuguese professor Fantina Tedim (University of Porto), an expert on extreme wild fires, argued that in addition to the risk management issues, the clear bias of decision-makers toward cities and indifference/neglect of the conditions of rural citizens (Os erros e as falhas na politics de gestão dos incendios rurais em Portugal, 6th CITCEM Conference, Nov 2017) was a major contribution to the destructiveness and casualties caused– although more than half of Portugal’s population lives in rural areas.

While the Portuguese finance minister and his kind praise the government’s efforts to increase the transfers to banks foreign and domestic, ostensibly debt reduction, and maintaining arms expenditures at NATO levels, investigations show that not only does austerity lead to closed hospitals and schools but to neglect of the most rudimentary fire prevention and firefighting investment (part of so-called civil protection) in much of the country.))
there’s space
between ships
between lips
no roof
holds back
what our souls
seem to lack
in the soil
drought ((Now the south central region of Alentejo (see map) is suffering its worst drought in 20 years.))
from too much toil
forests may try
but the truly brave
also cry.

Dr T.P. Wilkinson writes, teaches History and English, directs theatre and coaches cricket between the cradles of Heine and Saramago. He is author of Unbecoming American: A War Memoir and also Church Clothes, Land, Mission and the End of Apartheid in South Africa. Read other articles by T.P..