The Olive Wood Fire
When Fergus woke crying at night, I would carry him from his crib to the rocking chair and sit holding him before the fire of thousand-year-old olive wood.
Sometimes, for reasons I never knew and he has forgotten, even after his bottle the big tears would keep on rolling down his big cheeks —the left cheek always more brilliant than the right— and we would sit, some nights for hours, rocking in the light eking itself out of the ancient wood, and hold each other against the darkness, his close behind and far away in the future, mine I imagined all around.
One such time, fallen half-asleep myself, I thought I heard a scream —a flier crying out in horror as he dropped fire on he didn’t know what or whom, or else a child thus set aflame— and sat up alert. The olive wood fire had burned low. In my arms lay Fergus, fast asleep, left cheek glowing, God.
Three Books: Copyright © 1993, 2002 by Galway Kinnell Mortal Acts, Mortal Words: Copyright © 1980 by Galway Kinnell Reprinted by permission of Houghton Mifflin Company.