Last night while I was sitting on a dune, squinting eastward to the darkening sea I felt the touch of eyes upon my back and turned to see, quite close, a large, lone, dingo, backlit by the setting sun.
I was forced into reluctant admiration. His coat was ginger, darkening into brown. His head refined, with eyes set wide apart. His ears were straight and pointed. He was fit, well muscled and tight gutted. He neither threatened nor retreated. His stance was courteous acknowledgement.
Our eyes fused in slow, mutual, fascination.
Behind him stretched a long silver lagoon, separated by a strip of sand from the great green rollers crashing in. The sand strip ended in a sheer, four-metre cliff topped off with scrub.
Fishermen approached, finishing their day with the last light. Nearer they came until the dingo leapt away, racing with long, powerful strides toward the cliff which glowed in the sun’s last golden light. Now it beckoned, demanding an unimaginable leap before it offered sancuary. There was no place to hide. The sand bar was a trap with water tight on either side.
I could not imagine the dingo’s intent. To swim? To cower? To stand at bay?
He sprang into the air and stood, clear-cut against the blood red cloud. The lake mist curled like smoke beside him. The sun awarded him gold outlines for a moment till the shadow scrub and darkness claimed him back.
I stooped and touched his footprints with my fingers.
When I reached home your letter waited on the kitchen bench. Impatiently I tore it open to discover how you were dealing with the crisis that you face.
From distant continents you wrote, ‘When the Australian bushfire rages, the dingo survives, faces the wall of flame, and at the vital moment jumps across into a world of smoke and ash. Shall I be a dingo who survives the fire, or a blue fairy wren, who perishes and yet can fly?’
Do you not know? You have already leapt, long, long ago.
I stooped and touched your footprints with my fingers.