Where Fire Went

In the beginning,
earth resembled hell:
Its mass seethed like an aquarium of mealworms,
and fire fell

from heaven.
Then a cloud of sulphur
moved over the face
of the earth, and in its place

came the cooling breath
of ozone, and air,
and primitive forms of death.

rock became rock,
wood and water sprang
into existence,
and one bird sang.

The fire retreated;
it went underground
but was never wholly defeated.
It took new forms—

uranium, plutonium.
Some fire hid in an atom,
and some rested lazily at the planet’s core,
like tinder, marking time,

knowing what it waits for.

Kelly Cherry
from her book Natural Theology
Louisiana State University Press, 1988

Used with permission of the poet.

This poem was catalogued in Poems and written by Kelly Cherry. Bookmark the permalink.

About Kelly Cherry

Ms. Cherry is the author of twenty books and eight chapbooks of fiction (novels, stories), poetry, and nonfiction (essay, memoir, criticism) and two translations of classical drama. She has received numerous honors and awards and currently serves as Poet Laureate of the Commonwealth of Virginia.

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