Christmas Bells on Ash Wednesday


Birthed in a blood-orange haze,
a torture of sound batters my ears; 
the front-running wind – that howling dervish,
whipped into a firestorm frenzy.


Potato-and-earth invades our tub, drifting down
from wet sacks above.  A fort, Mum said,
before she left.  She’s thrice returned, 
refilling her bucket to battle the Embers. 
I hold my wooden sword close
in case they come for my brothers.


As I wander the rubble, a stone chimney topples; 
my boots are cloaked with death.  By one cracked toe,
life pushes through: a red-orange hood, 
tipped with gold. Christmas Bells ring 
in my playground of ash.

Ryan Stone


Inspiration: I was just a boy when the Ash Wednesday bushfires tore through the hills of my childhood, destroying everything in their path. On a blistering hot summer day during one of the worst droughts in Australia’s history, fierce winds stripped about 50 thousand tonnes of topsoil from Victoria’s Mallee and created a huge dust cloud that blanketed the sky, plunging everything into darkness. The wind’s roar and eerie glow of the sun are forever etched in my memory.

It was a very strong sensory experience. In particular, I have always been struck by the similarities between the colours of destruction and those of rebirth. The sun’s blood-orange, bushfire haze and the colours of the Christmas Bell flower, with their red, orange and yellow hoods that herald rebirth and renewal are both similar and worlds apart.

44 thoughts on “Christmas Bells on Ash Wednesday

  1. Such a visually moving account of that experience you’ve created, and what a fascinating relationship between the fire and the bells that you’ve drawn. Did you write this recently? Was thinking maybe the upcoming holiday sparks these memories for you – no pun intended! Beautiful work, Ryan.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Kelly – lovely as always 🙂

      I wrote it a little while ago but it was displayed throughout the Beth Chatto Gardens in the UK over November, so I had to wait before I could use it elsewhere.

      Strong memories, indeed!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Well thank you for sharing it here for people like me to see – I really do have an appreciation for your depth – it makes me have to think, which is a good thing in blog land! It really inspires me as well, which I always need. It is very apparent to me now as to why you are successful as an artist, after reading just a few pieces of your work! All the best to you 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      • You need to work on your presence here more now, so more people can see your work here – of course that is your choice, but the blogging format has a lot of potential that has yet to be seen. Sorry for carrying on… just my humble opinion. Have a good day or night… don’t know what time it is there!

        Liked by 1 person

      • I’d love to do exactly that – I’m open to any ideas or suggestions you may have. I agree completely, I think this is a great forum and opportunity to engage with people who might not otherwise read much poetry. I’ve found some excellent writing/photography/art since I’ve been here. Very inspiring 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      • I’m certainly not an expert on blogging, but just try to set time aside to visit and comment on blogs if you can. I’m sure you know that… it’s so time consuming though, especially if you work like I do… but soon your audience will grow and your platform as a writer or author as well. And get on twitter if you’re not already… it’s great for writers and connecting. Social media really is where people live these days, not such a good thing, but a reality. Have to go to sleep now – my husband is getting upset with me! But it was nice talking with you. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  2. This stirred so much.. and brought back memories of angst and war.. the reddish orange of the sunsets full of bullet sounds, of tears and prayers, of hands raised up wishing hope is really not locked in.. much.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Loving the new ‘inspiration’ section R 🙂 Up to you of course but I think it would make a fascinating regular feature. 😉 I can’t even begin to imagine what that experience must have felt like at such a young age. But that angle of rebirth after the destruction is such a poignant way of approaching it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Yusra. I appreciate the support- there’s a voice in my head that always says, ‘why would anyone care what you have to say?’, so it’s nice to know someone read and enjoyed it. Not a bad idea. I hope you’re happy and well 🙂


    • Thank you, Sarah. As far as I know, one poem was selected each month and displayed in various locations throughout the gardens, cafe and website. There is a poetry group that meets there each week and they used the selected poem as a discussion piece and inspiration for the month’s writing. Quite an honour for a hack from Australia 😉 Unfortunately the funding for the project stopped and it ended in December 2015. Who knew there wasn’t much money in poetry?


  4. Lovely Ryan. Beautifully written, stunning imagery, yet has such a sadness that is captured through the innocent eyes of a child. I really enjoyed that you included your personal thoughts as well. Marvelous! Please enjoy the rest of your week. ~ Mia

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Ryan! :] I missed your poetry! For some reason my “reader” thing isn’t working on WP and it won’t update. I’ve missed a lot it seems. This one is absolutely beautiful. Very strong imagery I only wish I could write! It really blew me away. I don’t know how you do it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Too sweet! Thank you so much, Al-your feedback really means the world to me. Yes, WordPress can be glitchy but I still love it as a platform. I’ve always found their support people very helpful, too. It may be worth an email.


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