Bow Drill Fire

Loved by the sun,
a tree receives
warm summer light,
makes wood:
sun’s heat held year by counted year
within its rings

In your calloused grasp you take the unformed fragrant wood

An edge of sharpened metal in your hand
you offer ancient gratitude
to those who kept and taught these ways
for we who hunger still to know.

Wood yields to skilful steel that shapes
a double-pointed shaft and flat smooth hearth:
male and female co-creators of new life

Next tinder, handhold, tight-strung bow;
you wind the drill into the string;
upright shaft now pressed and moving in the supine hearth,
this creation so much like human love

Vigor and heat,
the cedar’s cries,
the curling smoke,
the glowing spark conceived.

Shaft and hearth, exhausted and fulfilled,
are set aside

You hold new life, the coal,
swathed in tinder held in your steady hands
nurtured by your steady breath.

The blaze springs up between your fingertips

The unbound sun
gnawing at your singed but heedless hands
seeks freedom of its own

You set it gently in the waiting fuel

It lives
and grows

Fire from the sun
held in anticipation of your necessity
by clear-grained cedar heart;
and you, honouring and honoured
to bring it forth.

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