First Fire by Wilda Morris

Maybe rain was coming
in torrents, or snow
piled up outside the meager
lean-to the day man
invented fire.
Maybe his legs were broken
from a fall down the side
of an icy mountain.
The woman dragged him
to his pine-bough bed.
Confined, cold and hungry,
he complained as the woman
nursed their insatiable babe.

He drummed two sticks
against a log to the cadence
of the baby’s sucking,
rubbed them together
to the rhythm of internal anger
till it climaxed in sparks and flame.

After he learned to walk again,
how often did she wish
for someone to pull her
from the fires of his rage?

Wilda Morris, a widely published poet, is Workshop Chair, Poets and Patrons of Chicago. Her latest book is Pequod Poems: Gamming with Moby-Dick (Kelsay Books). Her blog,, features a monthly contest for other poets.


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