Dan's Drivel

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At the Fire

“Time is the fire in which we burn”
• Gene Roddenberry

She sits beside the fire,
a pile of dry leaves and wood,
and smokes a cigarette.
Leaving forward, elbows on knees,
she only now realizes that
fire rhymes with pyre.
Why didn’t she burn his body here,
here where he spent so many summer nights
thinking, drinking, and watching the fire burn
instead of at the cemetery in the village.
She stands up, sighs,
flicks her cigarette stub into the pile,
gets in her pickup and drives.

At the fire
I found you,
at least
embers and ashes
a crushed beer can,
and memories of you.

She found herself
back at the fire.

It was winter, snow fell.

The fire barely crackled
but was not quite out.

She sat by the fire
on an upturned log

it certainly wasn’t a stump
with roots and promise of life

no, this was part of the trunk,
part of a tree he had cut down
long ago

The log, like so much here, was dead

She wondered, often with remorse,
how she hung on

how she herself remained with the living;
a stump incapable of moving on.

she found herself back at the fire,
same day different year
it was always like this, probably always will be
she didn’t like change, maybe that’s what made it so hard
sitting where she always sat
she looked over at where he always used to be,
still could see him.
sometimes she’d even reach out to touch him
sometimes even started to say his name.
not this time though
she looked back at the dying flames
, ashes and memory,
stood up once inside.
longest day of the year?
for her it was the darkest.

Don’t stand too close to the fire,
they would say
you might get burned.

Where were they
she met

She found herself
again, back at the fire.
He was dead, she was slowly dying

Maybe it’s time, she said,
got up, walked up to the fire,
for the last few drops of beer into it,
and made her way back to the house –
lightning flashed across the sky.

She got up,
drop the cigarette
into an empty beer can
and kicks dirt into the dying fire.
She looked across to where he was,
well, where he used to be,
then spacing to the ground
between her legs.
She kicked dirt over that
patch of scorched earth too.

She stood at the fire,
watched it turn to ash.

“Another cigarette”

She gets up, kicks the dirt
(the way children kick cans, grown-ups kick habits, elders kick the bucket)
then sits back down again and kicks herself for
holding it in, hanging on,
and instead of getting away
hanging around.

“Some say the world will end in fire…”
• Robert Frost