Dramatis persona*

helenhead Helen Chick

I've always wanted a bumper sticker that said "I'm a female, LDS/Mormon, Scout leading, geocaching, piano-playing, bicycling, mathematics educator with a PhD in maths ... and I VOTE"!

I think this makes me a minority group of cardinality 1!

* Since there's only one of me and "personae" is plural (I think), I've gone with dramatis persona.
January 2021
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89. Through the Fire [100 poems challenge]


89.          Through the Fire

By the blazing council fire light
Wood gathered (I’m sure there isn’t enough
But they don’t yet know how much is really needed)
Damp paper scrunched beneath the pyramid
Lit with the second awkwardly held match
Sputtering at first, and hesitant,
Then the gentle crackling as the wood takes flame
And flares enough to sustain itself.
We have met in fellowship tonight
Tents set back in the shadows,
Fading in the dusk light,
Washing up done and packed away.
There is jostling for position
Laughing over who should have the comfy logs
And then losing seats in a round of
Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.
Round about the whispering trees
The damp smell of recent drizzle
Mingles with the aromatic smoke,
Its acrid tendrils swirling up and around
Targeting each of us in turn,
Then dissipating to show the bright stars
Set free of city lights
Vivid through the leaves and branches.
Guard our golden memories
A request for “The Viper” and “The Monk”
“The Dead Song” and some silly skits,
Cocooned in a badge-covered blanket
Reminiscing on the day’s events
Recalling camps and hikes from other times,
The glow of firelight on ruddy faces,
Warming us against the evening chill.
And so before we close our eyes in sleep
I watch the youngest, newly joined,
Here on her first ever camp,
The excitement of the day’s events
Are catching up and she fights
To stay awake, to be a part of
The group and stay up later than usual
Mesmerised by the magic of the flickering flames.
Let us pledge each other that we’ll keep
The older guys are still alert
They have more tales to tell
From the store of past experiences;
As the fire dies and turns to embers
They search for sticks and hold out hands
Expecting marshmallows
In the long tradition of such occasions.
Scouting friendships strong and deep
I wonder where they’ll be in years to come
Perhaps returning as leaders
Like some who share this night,
But though, like flames, memories may fade
Their ghosts will always be recalled
Through the fires of future nights
Made bright and wonderful.
Til we meet again.

27 July 2013


Comments: This may not mean much to many other people, but I had something in my eye and the sniffles as I was writing it. I have always found campfires magical, and I have fond memories of many occasions with my Cubs and Scouts and fellow leaders over the past 31 years. The “outer” poem—the 8 lines set to the far left—is a traditional campfire closing song; I would have learned it on one of the leader training courses I did when I started leading as an 18 year old. The rest of the poem comprises my recollections (with a little poetic licence) of the many campfires I have attended and their atmosphere. (“The Monk” and “The Viper” are two jokes from my collection of bad-pun shaggy dog stories, and “The Dead Song” was the name some of my Scouts gave to Tom Lehrer’s “Irish Ballad” (a.k.a. “Ricketty Ticketty Tin”).)

Themes to come: 90. Triangle; 91. Drowning; 92. All That I Have; 93. Give Up; 94. Last Hope

Explanation about the 100 poems challenge here.

3 comments to 89. Through the Fire [100 poems challenge]

  • Matthew Cengia

    I totally didn’t have any campfire smoke in my eyes while I was reading this. *sniff*. Honest. Wow. I think I’ve just got to go and blow my nose now. I love it. I’m *really* hanging out for a campfire now. I need to get me a camp blanket. Perhaps even a silly hat.

    (Incidentally, when I read it via RSS, the indentations didn’t render and I found myself actively trying to hold myself back from skipping ahead to check all the song was there.)

  • David

    Well that put a lump in the throat!

  • Grey haired Matriarch

    Ah, the ghosts of campfires past!

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