Putting My Ash on the Line. Kathleen Holliday

Putting My Ash on the Line


Poetry is just the evidence of your life. 
If your life is burning well, poetry is just the ash.  

Leonard Cohen

Sometimes, I find piles
from little volcanoes
like the remains of cone incense,
a wisp of smoke in the air:
reductio ad absurdum, or,

or an aromatic lump of ambergris,
a flake of alchemist’s gold,

the ends of papers curling up,

the pugilist pose of a body
seized by extreme heat.

Set afire by others too:
turning round and round,
a firework sputtering, then
blurring into a single flame.

from the radiance of other conflagrations,
a sustaining heat to warm my hands;

my mother’s ashes in my cupboard
still glowing.

And even in last night’s dream,
I poled among the delta reeds
as flaming scraps — papyri,
rained down into the water
hissing;

I trimmed my oars
and stood, reaching up
to smear my face and hands
with the falling ash
of an ancient library
burning.

On waking, I pray:
let me be fire, 
let me be wood.

Kathleen Holliday is a graduate of Augsburg University, Minneapolis

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