It is the day after the night and I am raking the ashes
in the circle of trees. Boots on feet, apple branch in hand,
guardedly I poke and stir and lift – and, in each gust of wind,

the dead overnight dust, with its cargo of lumpen
unburnedness, flashes up into wanton sparks –
and the more I feed it dank and drizzled twigs

and more half-hearted charcoal, the more
it smokes and flames, it flares and rockets –
sinks back, creeps, dies… then again flashes –

it’s crimson ink up the blotter, it’s rose plume from the volcano,
it’s amber dawn-splash in the awkward grizzled morning –

and I circle it. A sudden witch
snatched from the staking

I dance with the gusting, sweeping,
throat-choking wind, a dissolute
tango in the harvested trees –

we chase each other
in a ring of wild containment,
we tease the turn of the season,
the turning of prayer,
we breathe in
deep smoke,
the wind and I,
breathe out
tough gusts
from tight lungs
into huge air –
we stamp,
we chant,
the wind and I:
Winter. Under.

©Alison Leonard.