Fire magic

For the dverse prompt. An ordinary branch etheree.


In the damp grass, among the fallen leaves,

a dead branch lies, fallen in some gale,

lichen green, speckled with fungus,

home to hundreds, an insect

metropolis. Borne home,

laid in state in the

grate, a funeral

pyre will blaze—




Published by

Jane Dougherty

I used to do lots of things I didn't much enjoy. Now I am officially a writer. It's what I always wanted to be.

53 thoughts on “Fire magic”

  1. what an image and farewell to something that was once mighty and strong, yet in its final moments it becomes resplendent as it does not diminish but changes form, a dead branch becomes an orange bloom, warmth out of the cold, a magical transformation indeed Jane! the form you chose gave a special touch to the drama unfolding.

  2. The trial of fire, a conversion indeed. I really enjoyed the shape of your poem, as the words reduce down to the moment of fire blossoming. I also enjoyed the scrutiny you used to really “see”
    the fallen branch.

      1. I know what you mean. Whether it’s the fungi or the ones detached with legs, sometimes they are seen only after being put into the flames 😦

      2. I don’t like seeing them burn up needlessly. Knowing how hard the birds have to work to find food in the winter, I feel guilty about destroying a food source.

  3. I read Buddhists tread carefully just incase they crush an insect , yet they eat bread which is grown from wheat and the plow kills millions as it turns the earth. Most will swat a fly but rescue a spider.

  4. Yes I agree with you but it is impossible to lead a life of consistency. To live is to kill and inconvenience other creatures and our neighbors , but remember they will do the same to us , it’s a tit for tat existence only God can tread the moral high ground.

      1. You are quite right we need a moral compass ; apparently the SS guards enjoyed feeding the birds.

  5. I really like how this went from the living branch to its funeral pyre. Also, there’s something about observing that lichen-covered branch lying the damp grass. I can picture that so well.

  6. Thank you so much for this. My mother will be cremated tomorrow. It helps so much to imagine her and the fire turning into orange flowers.

    I am crying now, and this has healed me more than you can know.

    1. Oh, I’m so sorry, Shawna. My mother died fifteen years ago very suddenly and I still haven’t got over it. I agree with you that the symbolism of being embraced by the fire is a much more uplifting one than going into a hole in the cold ground. My grandmother who had no time for the Church or much to do with Catholicism asked to be cremated without a church ceremony. It was certainly easier for us seeing her go like that, even if we don’t see flames or their beauty. We are all dispersed into the environment somehow. The flames make it seem such a beautiful act of giving.

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