A woman bringing fire from her mother’s hearth
to light her own in her own new home.
I like this story, an acient Roman ritual, and tell
it to my daughter though I get it wrong on the first try.
I say the mother gives the flame, hands
it to her daughter like a bag of apples
or cash against the unforeseen emergency.
But a daughter needs to choose before she takes,
use her hands as she sees fit--for culling grain
or spreading seed, replacing broken d-strings
on an old guitar. And what about a knife or a gun?
Within arm’s reach. Scale fish, sculpt form,
ward off anyone who comes into the house unasked.
Let me not be one of those unasked.
News from afar of war; nearer too, political unease.
Signs and omens read me, compel me to the story’s end:
women bringing fire from hearth to hearth to
the center of the city. I tell this to my daughter,
pacing like a lynx in the the room I gave her
long ago. “We must,” I tell her, “separate, as completely
as the morning you were born, your raging flesh
cut out of mine. I’ll find you when the war is over,
by the wounded bridge or in the last abandoned building.
Let me hold you, briefly, just for a moment, just
for all eternity. My spirit’s blazing, burning in and out
my own wild life: feel it, hold it, keep it in your own
mind’s eye, heart’s core, deepest dream cupped and
closed and open then move on: go with it, go with it, go.”