Fire and the Deep

I am burning

through the decades,

not figuratively as I finish my first fifth decade, no

literally onto this bonfire I am pitching husks of barnacles

like Porterfield Elementary autograph books, 40 years of birthday cards,

Christmas photos, school concert programs, playbills, ticket stubs, pay stubs, tree bark,

blurry photos, zoo photos, tree photos, maps to parks and cities and bike trails,

brochures to the Grand Canyon, Mount Rushmore, Chicago Natural Field Museum, Mt. Hood,

Cape Cod.

I toss in graduation cards from various places of higher learning, most of the wedding cards, baby congratulations, baby death condolences, church programs with questions and hangman, scribbled art from kid 1 on the back of case briefs, hand prints, leaf etchings in red and orange, kindergarten worksheets, thirty-four years’ worth of three kids’ worth of report cards, receipts for lumber for the deck that now needs repair and a video camera that we last used in the 90s, manuals for appliances and vehicles that we have and that we don’t, commissioned but amateur artwork I did for that one book about growing up in northern Wisconsin, piles of research for law review papers on the Supreme Court and frozen embryos, reams of paperwork from the insurance fight for coverage so that kid number two could just be born (and the grievance process appurtenant thereto), just plain insurance statements from the hysterectomy and the hip surgery and the broken ankle from when kid three wanted to know how many stairs she could jump down.

The answer is five.

I take this pitchfork and lift this pile heavy with decade upon decade so that

air can come in under it and burst it all into flame, fire moving through

the sodden years of the things that I have saved for so long

or rather things that have tethered me for so long,

things that I have moved in boxes from Porterfield

to Oconto to Fayetteville to Suamico (twice) from

1987 to 1994 to 1999 to 2004 until

there were boxes and boxes

of things I have dragged

in the wake of me

across the states.

Like Moby Dick,

exasperated beyond all measure,

when he knows there is no escape,

when he knows that they will just keep coming,

swimming through the lines of the boats of the Pequod

entwining them in his aging white flukes and fins and pulling them down

in a raging whirlpool to the dark of the deep –

except instead of down I am offering them up,


in feathers and flakes of white ash, with this fire

I am burning

the twisted lines so I can be free, or maybe so they

can be free of me

as I rise

so I can take

this broken this healed this undecided body and soul up

from the dark,

up from the watery depths, up to the slant winter light

I can see

resting on the face of the deep, like a dreamer coming to the end

of the dream.

4 thoughts on “Fire and the Deep

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s