Bank the Embers

“All right. That brings us to a close, my dears.
Now you two sisters listen up. All ears!”
The old man closed the book, clearing his throat,
and pocketed his glasses in his coat.
“Before the last among us goes to bed
a most important task still lies ahead.
The warmth that wakes the morning will depend
on banking well the embers at day’s end.”
So, grasping hearthside tools his father made
he poked a bit, then shoved a sooty spade
beneath the ash dust in an oak log’s grave
its smoky ghost was powerless to save.
The fire popped and spit a final word
of some same truth an ancient hunter heard
before the slate shard cinders stirred a cloud
that settled on the embers like a shroud.
And after little girls had gone to bed
each dreamed within her hibernating head
of cozy coals with eyes too bright to sleep
up under ashen blankets buried deep.
Next morning, footpads arched above the chills
of hardwoods, cold as frosty windowsills,
ten toes times two tipped near the hearth to see
what gift the coals left fires yet-to-be.
The old man dusted off the clump with care
and sure enough, still glowing under there
were lumps of what the little girls supposed
they’d see if earth’s deep center were exposed.
Heart of pine across that ore he laid
that had been split in pieces by his blade
as sleeping yester – coals brought fire to the space
and flames between each oak log danced in place.
At such a sight, one grandchild chimed to sis,’
“When we grow old, let’s each remember this:
the dancing flames that leap to life from dust;
the fire – building hands that we can trust.”
There comes a day, as to each one there will
when heads are bowed, and every soul is still
in homage to a love that only grows
if banked beneath life’s mounting winter snows.
Then little eyes and little hearts will know
the light that warms the world with Heaven’s glow
lies buried like a treasure in the ground
‘til lifted by Love’s hand, and thus is found.

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