by Christopher Raley
They gather to build the fire,
men of older dreams, men of dead dreams.
Talk is out of mouths that hear to a world unseen,
and fingers feel with knowing eyes use of axe and wood.
Laughter comes just before the joke is punched.
Around them forest stretches and holds scared and quiet creature’s
frozen eyes, through gnarled manzanita and drooping hands of pine
hidden beholding heavy steps and strange, jagged rhythms of voice.
Beyond them forest stretches over patient deaths
of fallen trunks sprouting rising falls.
And peace is as many moments of silence
until fear of alien perseverance drives out to word.
So at last I left the moment’s sanctuary
to cross the dusty road where evening yet lingered
and their voices were soundings in deep water.
In the trees again I hurry to the call of men around the fire,
men of older dreams, men of dead dreams,
a circle of wrinkled palms yearning toward the flame.