On my last camp-out
under the blaze of Leo sun
in the sate of summer heat
they asked: Who will make a fire,
watch it, ready it for food?
And as usual, I stepped forward
without word, laid the profit
and tinder, grouped a tender nest
for a fledgling flame
and stayed with it all morning
feeding its hungry mouth, watching
the blue pinfeather flickers, orange
adolescent plumes, the snapping
full-blown roar of feathers, rising
on the heat of day.
The fire became mine. I guarded it,
kept all the unthoughtful away,
the pokers, and throwers, those who
would bring chaff, not wood
and held the youngsters at my side,
cautioning, teaching how to lay on
gentle fuel, and listen to the sing
and sigh, and judge the red ember heat.
Most soon ran away, but one or two stayed,
drawn down into the deeper well, and I saw
little vestals being forged, and myself,
Hestia, hearth and home, and later
as darkness fell, I knew an even older time,
when I judged who sat, and where; who joined,
who spoke; and reading shifts and signs
of flame, I heard them name me Fire Woman.
Yvette Viets Flaten of Eau Claire, Wisconsin, is active in the local arts community and her poetry has appeared in numerous journals. She won the Wisconsin Fellowship of Poets’ Muse Prize for Excellence in Poetry in 2008 and 2013 and the Wisconsin Writers’ Association’s Jade Ring for poetry in 2010 and 2015. She loves to cook, travel, and read.