In our Ozarks home,
the last really good shack in Benton county,
a woodstove was our only source of heat.
A beautiful hulk of metal
that would keep bright embers alive
thru the cold winter nights.
Its warmth pervaded the old drafty house-
silent and holy as the sacred fire.
Ritual feeding with fragrant split red oak
and removal of spent gray ash-
a daily blessing and curse.
Beginning in the cool evenings of early fall
and extended into warm days of late spring,
morning and night each had its own ceremony.
Formal practice of gifts
given and taken-
kneeling before the fire,
feeding the flame to give it life
and in turn,
we received the same blessing.
** A Hindu fire ritual – Vastu homa- a house-warming; to encourage good Vastu (energy in buildings)
I stoked my fireplace so often over the last week or so, I love the imagery. There is something about being warm by the fire when the world is so cold. Lovely.
I just spent two days warmed only by a wood stove up in the mountain. You’re right. It fills the space with a living light. A warmth that walks from room to room.
nice… i love a good wood fire…though i know what you mean by both…blessing and curse… it is a ritual for sure… and the warmth is much more comfortable than that of an electric heating
I loved how you took such an ironclad rural ritual and used the poem’s heat to transmute it into myth. It’s what they’re all based on, these irreducible truths. Deftly arranged and buttoned at the end.
Thanks, Brendan – while living in this wonderful old house, I became more aware of the daily rituals of life and the significance of our practices and mythologies. It brought me to a new understanding, a deeper understanding, of my spiritual beliefs – and it made me a better person. K
Do love this – feeding the fire and in return receiving its warmth.
Thanks, Anna – always appreciate when you drop by – smiles – K
I love the way you give your Ozark home a universality because surely it is fire, warmth, and light that keeps us one way or another alive, and allows us time and space to read, learn, and share. Thank you for the warmth of your poem. I hope you have a radiant Christmas season and a brilliant new year.
Thanks, Gay – it is always fun to remember our years in that old house. I had written another poem in a more vernacular voice but this one won out. I wish you and yours a beautiful Christmas and may we all have a healthy and peaceful new year – Blessings – K
I love old houses like the one in your pic. There is magic in them.
Thanks – the beautiful drawing was done by my beloved aunt. And there was much magic in this particular house. If you are interested, I have written about our time there – you can find the posts under the category The Last Really Good Shack on my blog. K
nice…when i first went out on my own and before i was married i lived in a converted hunting shack that had only a fireplace for heat…had to run out to the woodpile many a cold morning…ha…i miss feeding the fire, listening to it…and sitting by it…
We loved that old house and time has softened the memories of the time we spent there – but there is just nothing like central heat and air in our home here on the lake – smiles! K
I love the details of feeding the fire.. of the wood.. yes a fireplace is a bless.. but as a necessity it can well be a curse too..
Thanks, Bjorn – it was a wonderful time in our lives – but as romantic as it was – it is lovely to hear the furnace kick on in the cold winters nights here in our new abode! 🙂 K