I learned as a kid
the things my dad did
to make the burning safe:
backburning on the leeward side first,
keeping water close at hand,
and remembering it is much easier to start a fire than to put one out.
It’s something other than good practice—
even though it is good practice—
that leads me to burn the pasture each year.
It’s something more than good memories—
even though they are good memories—
that draws me to this ritual.
It’s something probably primeval,
something ancient and deep within the collective of human,
something powerful and mystic
that longs for the changing of the season,
this burning away the dried husks of winter,
the blackening of superficial memories
that so swiftly yield to the newing green,
the sheen of life’s thrilling change,
the promise of growth and the beauty of hope.
There’s something darker, too, I suppose.
The power of a single match and a light breeze,
the knowing that a gust in the wrong direction
could send the whole thing raging out of control,
like fury from a pent up soul
or a people too long kept from the source of their trouble.
Something deep inside me knows there is only
a thin and fragile line between keeping the flame
among the things I want destroyed
and away from those I long to keep.