Thursday, December 20, 2007

Thursday Poem - Chains of Fire

Each dawn, kneeling before my hearth,
Placing stick, crossing stick
On dry eucalyptus bark
Now the larger boughs, the log
(With thanks to the tree for its life)
Touching the match, waiting for creeping flame.
I know myself linked by chains of fire
To every woman who has kept a hearth.

In the resinous smoke
I smell hut and castle and cave,
Mansion and hovel.
See in the shifting flame my mother
And grandmothers out over the world
Time through, back to the Paleolithic
In rock shelters where flint struck first sparks
(Sparks aeons later alive on my hearth)
I see mothers, grandmothers back to beginnings,
Huddled beside holes in the earth
of igloo, tipi, cabin,
Guarding the magic no other being has learned,
Awed, reverent, before the sacred fire
Sharing live coals with the tribe.

For no one owns or can own fire,
it lends itself.
Every hearth-keeper has known this.
Hearth-less, lighting one candle in the dark
We know it today.
Fire lends itself,
Serving our life
Serving fire.

At Winter Solstice, kindling new fire
With sparks of the old
From black coals of the old,
Seeing them glow again,
Shuddering with the mystery,
We know the terror of rebirth.

Elsa Gidlow

The late Elsa Gidlow's powerful words are perfect for this liminal day before Yule. They evoke a chain of hearths, firelight, hearth keepers and community in the long nights, one going all the way back to the beginning time.

We have been celebrating the winter solstice and the return of the light for centuries beyond our ken and our imagination. Happy happy Yule and blessings to each and every one of you!


Shelli said...

The photo is beautiful and such a contrast to the snow photos! I hear and feel the flames flicking their long fingers at me! The poem is beautiful too. And blessings to you as well!

Rain Trueax said...

thats' beautiful. For years wood heat was our only source for this home; then a woodstove that leaked smoke caused me to have too many sinus infections and it became secondary source. Last winter I discovered that the fireplace, with a new glass door, allowed me to have a fire all winter and not have the smoke inside-- drew better. That fire made all the difference for tolerating winter's dark days and now I have one almost every day through the winter-- keeper of the hearth, indeed :)