It’s all firewood now, the scarred, splintered,

broken-apart tables, benches, and chairs piled


high far behind a country inn, all the dinner engagements

and family celebrations they’ve accommodated now firmly


past, service so demanding as to render this furniture

debris, the owner and his son, keeping a hose handy,


igniting the fire, flames swirling the mound instantly,

the crackling from within it at first spare and subdued,


then turning resonant and rhythmic as if in recitation

of its own, long, complicated story, the story of work


well done, of promises kept and promise redeemed, all

ending in this blaze through which it relives its history


of giving, the woodsmoke scent—lingering

long after the fire expires—surprisingly sweet.



by Mark Belair


Mark Belair’s poems have appeared in numerous journals, including Alabama Literary Review, Atlanta Review, Harvard Review, Michigan Quarterly Review, Poetry East and The South Carolina Review. His most recent collection is Breathing Room (Aldrich Press, 2015). Previous collections include Night Watch (Finishing Line Press, 2013); While We’re Waiting (Aldrich Press, 2013); and Walk With Me (Parallel Press of the University of Wisconsin at Madison, 2012). He has twice been nominated for a Pushcart Prize.


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