There are things
better thought of by the fire
as log voices pop
and air circulating through them
can breathe around a story.

Flame is thought’s reservoir,
a white-gold dancer
trimmed with evening’s sky who
leaves burnt-orange footprints.
Cinders rest mysterious as owls
but noisier, and as the fire wanes
a glorious blue dancer steps forth
with its own quiet song.

                      We read memory in the fire
                      and see in the yellow dancers
                      what fleets ahead of words.
                      In a mystery of flames the blue dancer snaps
                      for its other spirits.
                      No nuance of thought follows this flame.
                      No dancing in expected lines.

                      When just the embers remain,
                      the story and belief come back to us,
                      coming for rest, perhaps shelter,
                      and to live in our silent place,
                      their tongues eager dancers from the flame.

Ron Welburn

Ron Welburn, from southeastern Pennsylvania, is of Accomac Cherokee and Lenape descent. His poems have recently appeared in The Common (print and online); Last Stanza, and Brilliant Corners, and his seventh collection of poems is Council Decisions: Revised and Expanded Edition (Bowman Books/Greenfield Review Press, 2012). In 2017 he was a returning participant at the 25th Anniversary of the Returning the Gift Native and Indigenous Literary Festival at Oklahoma University. He is now an emeritus professor in the English department at UMass Amherst where he taught American literatures, American studies, Native American studies, and critical writing.

To Summon His Spirit Back from the Dead
Three Dreams