Putting My Ash on the Line. Kathleen Holliday

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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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