Susanna Lang


Tending the Fire

He has not handled an axe for years but tonight
my husband splits the logs for kindling and gathers
pinecones to light a fire. He remembers
to leave an opening for the air to feed the flames,
and knows to wait for the larger logs to catch.
He’ll wait again at the end, although he’s tired,
until the flames die down so we will not worry
that an errant spark could seed itself in the brush
that crowds too close to the fire pit. So dry here,
no rain in weeks. It’s late when we clamber up
to the sleeping loft, the embers breathing quietly
inside their stone circle. Above us the stars
burn thick with distance. Mystified, the rooster
calls as if he could already see the morning.

SUSANNA LANG’s newest collection of poems, Travel Notes from the River Styx, was released in summer 2017 from Terrapin Books. Her last collection was Tracing the Lines (Brick Road Poetry Press, 2013). A two-time Hambidge fellow, her poems have appeared in such publications as Little Star, Prairie Schooner, december, American Life in Poetry, and Verse Daily. Her translations of poetry by Yves Bonnefoy include Words in Stone and The Origin of Language. She lives with her husband in Chicago. More information available at