My Life’s Calling

My life’s calling, setting fires. 
Here in a hearth so huge 
I can stand inside and shove 
the wood around with my 
bare hands while church bells
deal the hours down through 
the chimney. No more 
woodcutter, creel for the fire 
or architect, the five staves 
pitched like rifles over stone. 
But to be mistro-elemental. 
The flute of clay playing
my breath that riles the flames, 
the fire risen to such dreaming 
sung once from landlords’ attics.
Sung once the broken lyres, 
seasoned and green. 
Even the few things I might save, 
my mother’s letters, 
locks of my children’s hair 
here handed over like the keys 
to a foreclosure, my robes 
remanded, and furniture
dragged out into the yard,
my bedsheets hoisted up the pine, 
whereby the house sets sail. 
And I am standing on a cliff 
above the sea, a paper light, 
a lantern. No longer mine 
to count the wrecks. 
Who rode the ships in ringing, 
marrying rock the waters 
storm to break the door, 
looked through the fire, beheld 
a clearing there. This is what 
you are. What you’ve come to.

Excerpted from Trapeze by Deborah Digges Copyright © 2004 by Deborah Digges. Excerpted by permission of Knopf, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.