Pat Jourdan


Trapped every evening by cold,

the word “family” does not fit.

The unspoken machinery of the house

flares. Our fireplace rumbles,

a contained thunder.

Already a ritual. I know how

to run into the yard and see

the dashing orange sparks we

send up into the night.

Mother and myself, dry tinder

to his anger.

“The chimney’s on fire”—a plaint,

an Autumn cry.

Something wonderful and unstoppable,

as though the house went wild.

At the hearth he separates the coals,

fazed; there is no-one to blame.

The sky accepts the sparks

I dare to imagine against the black.