I lay more wood on your fire, my only source
of winter warmth. Who am I to speak
for you, who cannot speak? Still, I love the creak
of your stovepipe swelling, the snap of sappy heartwood
in your belly. Whatever I feed you, you eat,
passing back the ashes that I scatter on the garden.
Yes, you are worth the small burns on my hands,
trying to angle in a log cut too big, dark
creosote stains on your sheet metal, hardening,
while the smell of smoke fills the house. Friend,
I need you even in my sleep, because you know
what I have always hoped to know, although
you sometimes sound half demon, half force
of nature, all wind rush and angry roar, still
you hold the blaze and give off a powerful heat.

(kz 1987)

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