Friday, November 10, 2023

Old Enough to Build a Fire

When I was old enough to build a fire
I came home from school on a bleak March day, overcast, sodden.
Snowdrops huddled in clumps, heads together, silently enduring wet drops
Rolling off their white hats.
I put on the kettle as the radiators quietly rattled and steamed
Cat stretching and hopping off her chair to see about kibbles.
Taking the leather carrier I walked to the woodpile, 
Piled in too many logs as I do with logs generally
And the carrier clumped and bumped against my legs painfully
As I dragged it into the house, piled them into the woodbox,
returned to the cold to scavenge for kindling.
Twisting newspapers, laying sticks, striking matches-
Matches, plural, because it is hard
To master match-striking.
The fire curls up into the twigs with small swirling whisps of smoke
The kettle sings loudly in the kitchen
And then I sit and do my homework or read my book
With my own pot of tea
And my own English muffin 
Sharp aged cheddar brown and bubbling on top from the oven
Logs shifting in the fireplace and popping and crackling
And under the grate the embers are glowing brightly
By the time my mother comes home.

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