A coal, shifting in the grate, sent forth a flame
which, kindling others, passed a dance around the room
flickered here on china, brass and lamp,
stirred among bronze shadows, rows of pewter mugs
and bookshelves brooding with an unread stare.
In a trice, beside the fireside, my dead grandmother
leaning forward in a dark armchair
face intent and lined by fire shadows
shaping the landscape of her features as she talked
now crags and moors, now woods,
the singing brooks and nuthatches
calling from high trees.
The fire held secrets I could never dream,
a fairy land of ministers, kings, and knights,
songs of land and sea she sang me
in the fire-glow of a ticking clock room
in a forest ringed house somewhere, I suppose,
between a late lunch and an early tea.
A coal, shifting in the grate,
brought down the echoing caves,
the cracking roofs spewed forth a flame,
fork tonged light soared a moment, died.
The brooding watchers, unmoved as stars,
saw unfold another land, another law, another galaxy
in dull red caverns of the coals.