Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, THE LITTLE FIRE IN THE WOODS, by HAYDEN CARRUTH

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Classic and Contemporary Poetry

THE LITTLE FIRE IN THE WOODS, by                 Poet Analysis     Poet's Biography
First Line: Even these stones I placed crudely once
Last Line: Good night / good night
Subject(s): Fire; Forests; Woods

Even these stones I placed crudely once,
black now from many fires, bring me
a little knowledge, things I've done,
times endured, saying I am this one, this
person, as night falls through the trees. I see sand
darkening by the edge of an ocean, lights
on the rim of a galaxy, but I have not planned

my visions. I wish I could. We used birch bark
and spruce cones for tinder tonight, in which
a spark rambled until it met itself, flaring then
and leaping, throwing shadows among the trees.
Now punky gray birch smolders. Held
in the roots of our great spruce, I hold
my son, and the darkness thickens. It isn't

the cares of day I think of any longer.
True, I got this bruised belly when the machine
kicked this afternoon in our troubled potato patch
where the earth too cried out for justice,
justice! I tauten my muscles; the pain
is good and I wish it could be everything. But
larger errors are what we think of now

that have flared and leapt and thrown these shadows
of extinction among our objects. Or is the error
necessity, a circle closing? Son, in nature all
successions end. How long and slow is chaos.
Anywhere I am I see the slow surge of fire --
I, a diffraction, nothing. My son moves
closer. "Pop, how does the fire make heat?"

He does not see the fire I see, but I know
he knows a terror that children have never
known before, waiting for him. He knows.
Our love is here, this night, these woods, existing;
it is now. I think how its being
must emanate, like heat in conversion,
out beyond the woods to the stars, and how

it joins there in the total reckoning. It must.
Could anyone resist this longing all the time?
Oh, I know what I know, and I cannot
unknow it, crying out too for justice,
while the fire dwindles and shadows rise and flow.
But listen, something is here in the forest. Listen.
It is very clear and it whispers a little song:

Sweet Bo I know thee
thou art ten
and knowest now thy father is
five times more again
and more
and most gone out of rhymes
sweet Bo
for thou dost know me.

And thou old spruce above us
many are they of comrade and kin
who love us
so that their loving proveth
although their way hath not
the same compassion
as thy nonloving.

Sweet Bo good night and hold me
hold me close
the good firelight
is dying
the woods are sighing
and great is the dark
am I for thee sweet Bo
good night
good night.

Used with the permission of Copper Canyon Press, P.O. Box 271, Port Townsend, WA
98368-0271, www.cc.press.org

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