Monday, January 15, 2024

At sundown we light the bonfire

that great pile of brash & leaves
as much of the old year as will burn

it’s been a dry spring so it goes up
quickly at first     the flames alive
& wild as trapped birds

later I must help it along     prodding
& replacing the ends of fall outs
to be sure that everything burns

the neighbours come down to watch
smoke blow across the paddock &
through thin trees beyond the beck

they stand at a distance
eyes reflecting an ancient revelry

            so that’s that for another year

or remark that now
the nights will only get longer

then return to their houses
while I rake the ash & embers
sending effervescent sparks into the air

it’s no good to be outweighed by
what’s already lost     space must be
cleared for more death in hope

that death might later make
some concession for life

tonight it will not get fully dark
only blue a sudden emptiness
where the fire was heaped

& around the shapes of sedges
garden furniture     the house itself

all that we were not yet ready to burn
rising between the bare earth & dusk

Monday, January 15, 2024