Reckless groping in the dark
fumbling for sparks.
Arrange sticks in a circle,
build a tent, begin small.
Kindle any glimmer with your own breath,
then crouch waiting for flame to catch
wood wet, drenched cold.
of wonder, then watch
this young twig too green
laugh with fire.
She, girl, mother, glows bright as fireflies,
sings flat out loud to know this joy:
Nothing can stop her
when the growing begins,
when the unknowable, untouchable, swells
to kick her hard from inside out.
Lay your head to the beating heart
and fall asleep in warmth.
We, like moon's dark side forever face away,
forget wave and particle,
turn stubborn backs to the shining.
What dangerous wild conflagration
can scorch these fields, to send
life rising up like prairie grass?
Tease the gift from ashes.
Guard the coals. Coax the flame.
Spanish speakers know, naming birth:
to give light.
Kae Penner-Howell lived in Chicago, where she was a featured reader in the thriving poetry scene when this poem appeared.