We arrive with the long snow
on foot, our eyes the only light,
tracks of the last sled, our path
back to the road. Ahead the lake
where we strike the match.
The wind stales the cold rush of smoke.
The water comes easy off the flame,
and for a moment, a fire
builds in our hands. We become inhabitants.
We would leave but the monks say
fire near the road brings scholars in
to breed, to build the clearing up
into camps. A fire loses ground to ignorance,
the usual ash and stone. But we are civilized.
We forge embers out of wind. We shape footprints
to survive us, to freeze the river in
where our bodies warmed this altar,
our eyes an offering, a lasting flame.