(Poem by Wendy Howe )

A year and its lingering days
have spoken in fire. My house
feels the lilt of candles
burning lime blossom and teak.

Winter comes as a quiet host
offering shorter days but longer nights
that stretch and shadow the wall
with a woman holding her daughter.

To the warmest corner, I take my child,
the southeast where direction conjures
old tales of place and time.
Her Slavic grandmother understood
the ways of fire; the dire need
and the daydreamer's gaze.

She lit smudge pots that lined the orchard
in vigilant gold. Plants kept from freezing
and she saw how stars could blaze
and beckon between clouds
darkly layered like the logs
on her kitchen hearth.

When rain or snow confined her
to indoor afternoons, she threw rice
or dried beans into the flames. Her eyes
could read the melody of embers;
and slowly she learned the song
of her future life.

Perhaps then, she heard me singing
to an infant girl, sensed the heat
of a mother's breath mingling with candles,
the skin of one generation
glistening on the next, and the glow
off her knowledge passed on
in this soft pause The Earth
               christens Twilight.

© 2011, Wendy Howe. E-mail.
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