04 November 2014

The Village Bonfire



Bramble, brush, branches and bark
wooden benches and school desks
dried leaves and folded cardboard
boxes, coffee containers
and worn and paint splattered clothes—
the pile is taller than our six-
foot holder of the matches.

Four stand by with water pails,
straw brooms and rakes to catch sparks
and flying ash—they are the
“sober drivers” while the rest
of us go wild throwing more
tinder on the fire—notebooks
and letters, receipts and bills.

So rare, this freedom to burn,
what with recycling and trash
pick-up replacing do-it
yourself chores, what with forest
fires and drought endangering
wild life and suburban homes.

One day is all we have.  One
day to stand outside and whoop
it up until burnt out—both
people and fire reduced to
embers perfect for roasting
marshmallows held out like bait.

Sure, we have neighborhood pig
roasts and barbecues, clam bakes
and picnics—but this bonfire
is a step into wildness—
no houses on fire and no
animals injured.  Pretend.

Our front sides sweating and our backs
chilled, we're reluctant to leave
so fish for old-time stories,
serve up memories, make notes
to call parents tomorrow,
listen to the final snaps
and crackles, then drift homeward.





 Posted for my prompt 

Poets United Midweek Motif ~ Bonfires



Copyright © 2014 S.L.Chast



16 comments:

Old Egg said...

There is a sadness about bonfires; memories of times past, youth, long gone relatives, laughter and innocence in our pollution of the air and the damage humanity has done to the world.

Grace said...

I would love to have the time and urge to burn some stuff ~ I specially like this line:

this bonfire
is a step into wildness—

Vandana Sharma said...

Let all the negativeness burn in the bonfire.

totomai said...

i smiled with the marshmallow and bonfire imagery.

letting some of our stuff go is kinda difficult but sometimes we must....

Unknown said...

There is that feeling of wild abandon. Moving from a city (where we could never burn) to Ag land where bonfires where common I loved the feeling that I was somehow breaking the rules...

Jae Rose said...

I loved the first line..really sparkles...burning bad things can be cathartic..I feel that a little here

Mary said...

Yes, there really is something about throwing things into the fire and watching them burn. And yes, we have one day to burn...and we must make good choices about how we burn the day, as we can't regain the day once it is burnt away. We have both freedom and responsibility in the burning.

Kathryn Dyche said...

I actually miss the bonfires we used to have on the 5 November in the UK and the fireworks that would often accompany them.

Sherry Blue Sky said...

Ha, this evokes the communal fires of old that I thought of for the prompt.....the folksyness of neighbors gathering to tend one fire. Very cool, Susan!

Anonymous said...

I love bonfires -- the smell of them -- the connection with nature -- all while being mindful of its power! It is a lovely tango when it is an intentional gesture! Nothing like those roasted marshmallows at the end of a stick or hanger. Thank you for some lovely memories.

humbird said...

Love the first verse specially with the list of things we throw there pretending- nothing is bad about the fire....~ Brilliant, feel the heat of passion!

rallentanda said...

All those bonfires were in fact unwittingly polluting the atmosphere as oldegg pointed out...still the good memories and fun cannot be erased.

Sumana Roy said...

the poem becomes one bonfire with the sputtering sound in the first line...excitement catches on and the flames rise and the end is mild like all endings are with a tinge of sadness...beautiful Susan..

Myrna R. said...

I've never been near a bonfire, unless the burning of leaves qualifies. Yours sounds like fun, a release from the norm and a display of the wild side. Enjoyed reading this.

Gen Giggles said...

That sounds like Homecoming in my home town.

Nicholas said...

Susan, your poem made me think back to my high school years when we would have an annual bonfire to burn our high school's football team rivals' uniforms and jerseys. It was so much fun!!!