…he fed the young flame with wisps of dry grass
                             and with the tiniest dry twigs.

                                           – Jack London (“To Build a Fire”)

A fair piece from the Yukon,
Jack—nothing warms cold bones
like a good fire. We, too, need

a flame to feed a woodstove
oak, the standing dead and fallen
to adversity and time,

and start with broken posts:
split coastal redwood pencil-thin
into a chimney teepee thatch

on crumpled newsprint
before the match leaps to catch
a hungry blaze, inside

shadows dance and touch,
begging brittle Manzanita’s
hard red heart that dulls a chain,

severed limbs of lichened skeletons
wait to burn hot and easily
to prepare the seed, lick the oak

with fire. And glowing early
morning coals banked in ash
start Manzanita sticks a flash.


6 responses to “ODE TO MANZANITA

  1. Peter Notehelfer

    Is there anything smells quite so sweet as mountain laurel burning slow on a hot hearth! Such memories your words evoke . . .

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Isn’t that the story where snow falls on the fire and the man freezes? 🙂 Hope you live to enjoy many lovely fires!


    Liked by 1 person

  3. Manzanita and oak. What a wonderful combination. Hard and hot. Half the cutting than if you were a couple thousand feet higher in the pines. I pray it remains a renewable resource

    Liked by 1 person

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