With the butt-ends aligned
on the massive pile of last year’s branches
and their mingled scents—
hemlock, white pine, spruce, red oak,
yellow birch, fir, rock maple—
I ram underneath a cardboard box
with birch-bark soaked in diesel
and strike a match, coaxing
till flames suddenly tower,
snapping like jibs in a thirty-knot breeze
of their own creation,
the entire pile passionate.
After three hours I push in
smoking butts with a rake
turning my face from the intensity,
and the circle of red-centered ash rises again.
Overnight it festers.
After two days it steams in a snowstorm,
the grey circle holding its own,
the center still lustrous
when I rake and pile the embers.
After four days a string rises
from an ant-hill aglow in the dusk,
the mingled scents still in the air:
the sour spruce
the ginger-sweetness of the fir,
the piss-oak’s stench,
the white pine’s tarry tang.
Thomas Moore of Brooksville is a retired teacher now devoting his time to writing.