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Temporal Bones
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In Praise of a Chimney


When a particular wind blows

a violent blast from the west,

a great god puts his lips to the chimney 

and blows. 


Our chimney’s a pipe of huge dimensions;

mine and my lover’s arms outstretched

to join up in one great ring,

would be less than its circumference.


Its voice is the bull roar

of storm, making a second roof

over our heads and plumping

the whole house down in its vibration.


The complex tones in its song

penetrate our granite hearthstone

into the topsoil, down through

the cold yellow subsoil


to what lies beneath us:

the heat from far below

and the groan of the memory 

of fire in the making of stone.


Give me hints of this breath 

of the earth, to praise a builder 

who, from a lost generation, 

raised this chimney.                                      


Let us bring the cave of his oven 

to life – bake sourdough 

and break it, as we hear Pan’s pipe 

calling in our fire.

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