Poem of the week: The Fire

A poem by Knute Skinner

Knute Skinner. Photograph:  Edna Faye Kiel

Knute Skinner. Photograph: Edna Faye Kiel


The fire is dying.
It is mostly charred embers and ash now,
but the end of a once hefty log
keeps a red glow.

I look at the fire, and I ponder resurrection.
There’s paper at hand in the bin,
and outside the door I’ve stationed a box of sticks.
A stack of logs stands ready by the garden wall.

Yes, I can revive the fire-but what then? what then?
Wait for the fire, renewed, to dwindle and die?
That, after all, is what it was going to do,
and, sooner or later, that is just what it will do.

Where it is, on the grate, the fire has little choice,
though the fire, given its way, would consume the world.
Confined as it is, it is I
who must bring the world to the fire.

Knute Skinner’s collected poems, Fifty Years: Poems 1957-2007, was published by Salmon Poetry. His latest collection, Against All Odds, was published by Lapwing in 2016. He has also published a memoir, Help Me to a Getaway (Salmon )