The Fire by Rae Spencer

The Fire

In the house of my youth we burned
Wood for warmth, cut cords of kindling
Or bought from the neighbor tumbled
Ricks, split and ready to stack in the shed

We brought the fire indoors, caged
In a cave of brick and iron where it paced
From log to log in restless ember
Bright crackle damped in the stove

To slow radiant glow. Some nights
Wind turned right and flame rushed
The chimney with a rumbled roar
Raced on swirling drafts until resin ran

In audible runnel through the creaking pipe
Dammed the elbow bend, which we cleaned
By hand after starving the feral flare
Choking its breath into cold glaze

Ash in the pan, dumped on the mound
To be whittled by gust and rain while we
Learned to choose a gentler timber
Avoiding hickory’s hot heart, which raged

In the stove, warping flange and grate
While summer-felled oak, cured for a season
Soothed softer heat through that lazy
Room, the paneled den of books and sleep

Dogs sprawled in a row before the stove
Cats weaving past the door to bask
Between hunts, between journeys afield
To measure the world and mark their place

With scent and claw before returning home
Fur soaked with smoke, like our clothes
And rugs, shelves and stories, everything
Warmed by the fire we kept inside

by Rae Spencer

Rae on Twitter: @raespen_

Editor’s Note: Alliteration is much ignored in modern poetry. This poem contradicts that fashion with precise imagery and tongue rolling sonics.

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