Brush-Pile Burning

By Thomas Moore, Special to the BDN
Posted Sept. 26, 2010, at 6:02 p.m.

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. printed on July 24, 2017