I have heard the world sound like Charles Mingus.
I have seen buildings burn.
One summer everywhere I went
I saw houses on fire.
I always stop whatever I'm doing
to watch something burn.
This strikes me as a sacred obligation.
For thousands of years --I don't know,
maybe it wasn't thousands of years--
we wanted and worshiped fire
and now we pay people to fight it.
Always an elemental battle,
but fire wins even when it is defeated.
Maybe there is nothing we should think
harder about than a house or building
that has been consumed by fire in the
dead of winter, extinguished with hoses,
and the next day transformed
into a desolate palace of ice.
Difficult to decide, looking upon
such a scene, whether the world
will end in fire or ice, and since they are
equally devastating and beautiful it hardly
seems to matter. I know, though, that
I have looked into both, and seen the
obliteration of time, including mine.
In the spring the building will be
gone and there will be just a dirt
lot and at dusk the world will sound
like John Coltrane's "Alabama"
and the fire will once again
be quietly biding its time.
Nothing in nature waits
so patiently to be born
and then grows up to be
a warrior so quickly
and so unexpectedly.
(The photo above is copyright Chuck Holliday of The Laconia Citizen. I stumbled across it years ago, and have had it on my desktop ever since.)