Teaching Wood to Burn

—Pamela Gross

Ricked splits of maple, alder, fir—

cross-stacked against damp—

wait so long, a blue mold

rinds the wood,

shed of its bark

and soaked through.


Once in the stove,

cold and wet as thawed,

coarse-cut meat,

these pieces are reluctant

to let go the heat

at their hearts.


To coax flame

from their locked rooms,

feign ignorance of fire’s cunning,

and how its many tongues


The remainder of this article is only available to paid subscribers.

Print subscribers to Commonweal are entitled to free access to all premium online content. Click here to purchase a print subscription, or if you’re already a print subscriber, register now for premium access.

Online-only subscriptions provide access to all premium online articles for just $34/year or $2.95/month. Click here to subscribe.

Registered users, please log in below:

Or log in with...