A mound of fine ashes
rounded the shape of what was left
from the burning of the brushpile on Saturday.
After the fire subsided from roar to murmur,
I piled on wheelbarrow loads
of summer-cut weeds and grass,
letting the heat of the thick-embered branches
crackle and smolder the green stems and blades;
overnight was not enough curing
to turn the cutting into tinder.
With each new load thrown onto the heap,
thick smoke curled and lifted
until the edges dried from the heat
and flamed for a moment
and the black stack of what could not burn
Three days later,
in the last light of a muggy Kansas evening,
I raked up the trimmings from a closer mowing
and threw that onto the dead heap
without checking for heat.
In the darkness a half-hour later,
flames lifted from the pile,
embers glowed from deep beneath,
fire stored in the heart of dense branches
held in the smoldering cover
of what could not burn,
leaping out to consume new tinder
like an old wound
nursed with bitterness,
lashing out to destroy
yet another blessing.
Or like an old hope,
stirred by some fresh sending
of faith and fate.
It seems strange to me to see both things
but I am sometimes too content
to see only one or the other.