I am watching the fire take, listening
to oak kindling snap as first plumes
of white smoke thread their way up
through the logs of sweet cherry wood
that will be substance of this blaze

then come slight orange tongues of flame
that have no words and also no feet
but dance with phantasmagoric verve
without least inkling of what they do –
dead tree is its own funeral pyre

thick braids of smoke shade of cloud
rise to lose themselves in summer sky
and the fire clears, is more orange than
it has been, more fierce, more fixed
on the work of consuming the wood

I feel the heat that I have unleashed
warming my cheek from four paces
I find myself overcome with awe,
not that I have not done this same
incendiary act hundreds of times,

not that I have not felt this awe many
times before, even cherished it as a way
into the mystery of what is ordinary
and extraordinary all at once, how fire
is destructive and creative both

the wood wanders its way to ash,
past the flickering and glowing coals
that seem to have an inner life
as they have inner light and heat,
become coated with elegant gray

I watch the fire and know that I am
watching myself, that I can no more
tarry on the way than the wood can,
that I know as little as does the wood,
that where I’m woven, I’m consumed

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