• Kim Fahner

O’Neill Cottage Hearth, County Clare; Transformed; Wildfire

O’Neill Cottage Hearth, County Clare

One spark; a beginning.

Centred heart, flames

feathering. Rising wings.

Peat bog turf, bricked.

Pieces of coal, rough-blackened.

Logs, mossy bark, lichen-dressed.

Fragments, slivering;

coal, smouldering;

scarlet light, cast on far wall.


This tree, well rooted

on the night before it falls,

bends and shivers in the rain,

folds into itself and shrinks inwards.

When dawn comes, it pales,

gold and red leaves fluttering,

finds limbs that are cut from trunk,

one after the other, matchsticks on the ground.

Gathered now, set aside to dry out,

piled up against a worn and kneeling fence.

Soon to hear crisp snap of flame—quick kindled—

coaxed to soaring; soon to blaze, so wild and fierce.


The radio says the flames have quickened,

spread across the landscape like a creeping,

sooty line that eats away at the paper of a folded map—

so fingers fumble, find rough edges, uneven scallops.

This is how they say things shift,

how the forest destroys itself

before it rises again, dark smudges

of earth and ghostly pines, painted.

High walls flicker, heat shimmers,

so this fire feeds itself, feasts on desire,

neglects to mind its manners or bend

to courtesy, convention, or etiquette.

This fire feasts on desire.

I hear you say this, in my head,

and wonder at its madness—

how desire is passion, unkempt

and without reason, shimmering wild.