A Fire in a Forest Clearing

During the 300 hr teacher training at the Esalen Institute, Janet Stone gave us an overnight homework to write a poem or something about forgiveness.  This came out.


In a forest clearing I am building a fire.  In a clearing on my way through the dark forest.  I will stay here a night, or a week, or perhaps longer.

I am chopping up the firewood I picked along the way.  Mountain ash, Scots pine, juniper.  Some is dry, some still wet, some gnarly.  I am not very strong, but I am getting a hang of it.  My machete is sharp and it fits into my hand nicely.

Still, wood chips and splinters fly all over as I build the fire.  Onto the earth, onto the grass, into my body.  Sometimes I stop to get a splinter out of my hand, leg, heart and throw it back into the fire.  Sometimes I just keep on chopping.

There are creatures in forest: around the clearing, in the clearing, lured by my fire.  I don’t know them, they don’t know me, we are cautious.  We don’t mind each other, except for the warmth of the fire and the splinters flying.

There are other travelers in the forest.  That’s what the forest is for: traveling, exploring.  In a clearing nearby you are building your fire.  With your axe, your firewood, your wood chips and splinters flying.  I can feel the warmth of your fire, you can feel that of mine.  That’s nice for a night, or a week, or however long our paths, out clearings are near each other.

There is warmth and there are sharp splinters.  I don’t mind the splinters.  I am here to keep the fire of love strong enough to burn them.

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