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)