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Peat Fire

August 7, 2011

Peat Fire



Sunday deep in fog,

I build a turf fire, a tell of the landscape

of my belonging. Drinking hot sweet tea–

Gene’s grandmother used to say

you could stand a spoon up in it by end of day.


In order to heal you must start at the beginning.

Go back, go back follow the spiral of smoke.


Driving into a somber village, late in the day,

fires are lit, grey on grey the layers of sky

no filter for the senses. It is an ancient memory

this one of fire, peat burning hot in a bed of stone,

cauldron on the boil. The strength of the old oak graves

a lure to us now, our life blood then.


Maybe I struggled on nameless days

peat, dried and cut in random slabs, thrown,

a withy basket strapped to my back. Am I

man or woman, it does not matter, any more

than the day of the week, or the progress of the life.

We do what must be done.

We stay close to the land, and pray for her bounty.

Perhaps, as I often see, my cottage crowns a barren hill,

no visitors come, though the fire stays full and welcoming.

Baskets of herbs, skeins of wool, dark bottles and jars of musty haze,

my spells, my work fill days. Peat fire my perfume.


Driving into a somber village, I don’t remember now which one.

I see the tractor idling at the corner, the young farmer in the phone box.

The mist becomes rain, we are lost in love.

I wonder, where is this place called longing?

Which life calls to you? Which one calls too soon? The ancestors

will be the death of us if we let them through.


I build a turf fire and watch the wood kindling turn to ash,

the turf begin to glow, an ordinary fire, transformed.

It’s curious that we have to leave

in order to come back and smell home.

Whether the journey is literal or the musings of a quiet mind,

where will you go?

Where is the mountain of your beginning? Nothing

no thing will come until you begin, begin from there.

I step outside into the fog and touch the iron fence.

Peat smoke fills my senses, this is an ancient memory

shared with blood and bone, ghost and faerie.

Belonging comes, yet still we are alone.





Jane Galer Aug. 7, 2011



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