Taking the Fire

He sits on a summer-shadowed porch, half-finished dulcimer cradled in his lap. Shavings of birdseye maple curl thinly from his knife, drift between his shoes, down the steps and across the path to where the river grapples fluid songs light and dark beyond the treebreak. When the wind quickens through mountain laurel, the old man listens, and the dulcimer's voice comes to him, sharp as the shiver of midnight you let in with the cat. The rhythm of his tools finds something more than a little wild in the wood. A sense of stars glitters on the twist of the blade, calls to music once hidden in the dreams of leafy branches fanning the moon, taps the memory of broken winter melting into the earth; water springs over hard and soft shadows of stones, pours into the tangled roots of the sapling's supple dance. The tree rejoices in the air, taking the fire of each sunrise into the heartwood. Now the vision calls clearly: come earth and water, fire and air. Come together in this wood. Sing for us.

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