Blue Oak rounds too big for the woodstove
collect near the splitter in a pile—energy
stored in rings of sun, years of rain—
the severed dead, hard and dry inside.
We look ahead to ceremony, prepare
as we go, set aside the burls and forks,
too twisted to split, for the outside fire
and generations of flickering faces.
I see my mother in my grand-daughter’s
eyes, leave us for a moment for the flames
lapping the remains of a stump—the call
from beyond that burns within us all—
she is drawn away. It is the coming back
to her mother’s lap, her bemused recognition
of going somewhere within white coals
beyond this half-circle of family
that I see my mother in her face
while the meat cooks. We talk, lift glasses
in the smoke that swirls undecidedly
around us, just out of reach of the flames.
Early tracks upon the morning frost,
someone will rise to stir the embers,
to rekindle conversation from cold night
hoping to keep the celebration alive.