All winter the fire devoured everything --
tear-stained elegies, old letters, diaries, dead flowers.
When April finally arrived,
I opened the woodstove one last time
and shoveled the remains of those long cold nights
into a bucket, ash rising
through shafts of sunlight,
as swirling in bright, angelic eddies.
I shoveled out the charred end of an oak log,
black and pointed like a pencil;
in the making of poems;
old, square handmade nails
liberated from weathered planks
split for kindling.
I buried my hands in the bucket,
found the nails, lifted them,
the phoenix of my right hand
shielded with soot and tar,
my left hand shrouded in soft white ash --
nails in both fists like forged lightning.
I smeared black lines on my face,
drew crosses on my chest with the nails,
raised my arms and stomped my feet,
dancing in honor of spring
and rebirth, dancing
in honor of winter and death.
I hauled the heavy bucket to the garden,
spread ashes over the ground,
asked the earth to be good.
I gave the earth everything
that pulled me through the lonely winter --
oak trees, barns, poems.
I picked up my shovel
and turned hard, gray dirt,
the blade splitting winter
from spring. With hoe and rake,
I cultivated soil,
tilling row after row,
the earth now loose and black.
Tearing seed packets with my teeth,
I sowed spinach with my right hand,
planted petunias with my left.
Lifting clumps of dirt,
I crumbled them in my fists,
loving each dark letter that fell from my fingers.
And when I carried my empty bucket to the lake for water,
a few last ashes rose into spring-morning air,
ash drifting over fields
and lightly dusted green.
Richard Jones's Other Poems
Read this poem in other languages
This poem has not been translated into any other language yet.
Comments about this poem (Sacrifices by Richard Jones )
- I Am playing, gajanan mishra
- Everyday Is a TEST, Enoch Owusu Gyamfi
- One Of These Pure Days, Naveed Akram
- Deepavali, Gangadharan nair Pulingat..
- Psalm CVII, Henry Ainsworth
- Even in strife, hasmukh amathalal
- ! DESECRATED POEMS/FLOATING HYPERLINK IN.., Alice Vedral Rivera
- In the midst of ruin there is reparation, Mark Heathcote
- Psalm XXIII, Henry Ainsworth
- Moral on love., Gangadharan nair Pulingat..
Poem of the Day
- The Road Not Taken, Robert Frost
- Annabel Lee, Edgar Allan Poe
- Phenomenal Woman, Maya Angelou
- If, Rudyard Kipling
- Still I Rise, Maya Angelou
- Dreams, Langston Hughes
- If You Forget Me, Pablo Neruda
- Nothing Gold Can Stay, Robert Frost
- I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings, Maya Angelou
- Fire and Ice, Robert Frost
(March 26, 1874 – January 29, 1963)
(4 April 1928 - 28 May 2014)
(1 February 1902 – 22 May 1967)
Edgar Allan Poe
(19 January 1809 - 7 October 1849)
- Heather Burns
(10 December 1830 – 15 May 1886)
(30 December 1865 – 18 January 1936)
(26 April 1564 - 23 April 1616)