You toil with one eye on the parade of sunsets,
moonrises, sun rises, and errant clouds
round you, another on the atonement
of the trees, split and stacked,
ready to yield their final sacrifice
to the making of art.
You must recognize the inclinations
of wind, it kicks up dust,
then chases flames into your stacks
and out through your vents in pursuit
of chaos. And you sense the ghosts,
the spirits who clutch the softening
cones, impede their falling inclinations.
Yes, you know these. So well!
You must keep a paternal watch
on those minions gathered
to assist you in this sacred ritual,
the wise workers who,
with perhaps a tang of reluctance,
yield to your leadership,
the exuberant who await
your knowing guidance,
as they reach, from time to time,
to maintain the rising rhythm
of the licking flame,
and the old lady in the corner
who asks too many questions,
just because she needs to know.
You must summon your own body
for this experience: your aching muscles,
your smoke-bleared eyes,
your sleep-craved mind, the tedious,
yet stimulating stokes, one log,
then another. You do not peer into the flames.
And above all this,
you find your ability to unite
these forces, the personal, the impersonal
and the Divine to work
towards this goal shared by all:
Fire’s sealing kiss onto the surface
of its soil, now sculpted into art,
pots meant to carry your legacy,
the artists’ visions, the endowment
of many tongues of flame
out into the admiring world.
And then you must wait,
wait until the packed-in heat abates
to partake of the yield
of your endeavors.
In honor of Grayson Fair and Jeff Heeg today,
and to all other fire-makers who come to Reitz Ranch,
Ann Metlay 3/1/2020
"With all the beauty surrounding me here above the Verde Valley, how could I not create more beauty?"