Appalachian Trail Shelter: Late Winter Afternoon
Focus as you tent the twigs
above the little yellow beech leaves –
only that and nothing more.
Take off your gloves,
tear loose one match
and strike it.
Cup it till it flares,
protect the flame until
the tiny glow
against the whiff
of thready smoke
that means you failed.
Now cherish what you have
and feed it,
snap the crispy tips off branches,
place them gently where they’ll catch,
The smell of fire,
small and welcome,
satisfying, says “I did it!”
Silhouette and flickerlight begin
to dance up on the logmade shelter wall,
become a weaving, waving dance done just for you,
evoke the rush and relish of the primal human triumph:
you defeated all the cold and dark outside where no human is for miles
save you and you alone.