The bonfire

A sestina, for Karen Poskus

The bonfire

The bonfire

For weeks we piled the vegetation high,
Yearning for flames, the acrid smell of smoke.
Huge branches lay, knitted together tight,
Exposed to wind, their wet leaves drying out.
We eyed the pile and knew that we must wait —
The wind must lull, to make our bonfire safe.

The morning came when all at last was safe,
The cherry trees above us arching high.
No longer any need to fret, delay, or wait:
We longed to see the curling plume of smoke
Sending our lockdown spirits up and out,
Away from all that was enclosed and tight.

She bent and raked. She loosened what was tight,
Making the foundations low and safe.
She spread the blackthorn, bay, and brambles out
So they no longer locked together, high.
We laughed, and longed in unison for smoke.
This was no time to stand around and wait.

She kindled flame, and ended our long wait
To rid ourselves of all that’s small and tight.
The flames roared loud, we revelled in the smoke,
Watching the trees to make sure they were safe.
Our spirits soared — oh we were young and high,
Nothing to put us or our spirits out.

Our flame would never sink, or gutter out.
The fire was here, and it was worth the wait.
We fed the fire, we watched the flames lick high.
She dragged new branches, packed them close and tight,
I tended them to make destruction safe.
Our clothes took on the acrid smell of smoke.

Oh, we were fire urchins, lost in smoke,
Dancing with joy to see the old stuff out,
To start again with new days that were safe,
To cleanse our spirits from so long a wait,
To baffle boredom and the lockdown, tight —
To rise like flames, and with the fire stay high.

And so our friendship, safe amid the smoke,
Climbs high and higher, never guttering out —
Well worth the wait, to loosen what was tight.