I watch my daughter build a fire
not from a match or cigarette lighter
but from the original elements,
two sticks, a length of sinew, friction.
She has formed a cup of juniper shreds,
and when she spins out a black ember
and breathes it to life
she transfers the radiant pebble
into the nest and breathes again.
Sparks fly from her lips.
A dove of flame bursts from between her hands.
She speaks to the spark
until the words catch and burn
and I think, here is my daughter
who is innocent of all things
yet from whose lips
the terrible and merciful
flame flies out, the truth, the fire.
The preceding is from the Freeman’s channel at Literary Hub, which features excerpts from the print editions of Freeman’s, along with supplementary writing from contributors past, present and future. The latest issue of Freeman’s, a special edition gathered around the theme of power, featuring work by Margaret Atwood, Elif Shafak, Eula Biss, Aleksandar Hemon and Aminatta Forna, among others, is available now.