Aelwyd Gartref (Home Hearth)

Aelwyd Gartref 
(home hearth)
the legs of the fire
their ruby shoes and polished shins
kick from the hearth mouth
the coal teeth spitting
drops of murked-water 
leaking lullabies on the tiles 
in the hum
I see the hands of mothers I know
and do not know
blister kisses on their finger pads
toast points bleeding butter into the grate
athames and pokers
searing healing sigils on soft child palms
alongside life and death lines 
the fire rears
don’t grab that just yet, love
it is too hot, just yet, love

the legs of the fire
hang limp
wispy and wet over the hearth lip
they are damp as unborn
the smuttering of the match 
bent over to light them
as white and blue as the cord
around the neck of a baby
in the cough 
I see the hands of children I know
and do not know 
fingers openfaced over the embers
warming under-nail dirt and frosted lungs
metal baths and rain damp trousers
kissing yellow into the knotholes of skin
the elbows of jumpers
the fire smooths 
you make sure to take your coat, love
it is too cold out there without a coat, love

the legs of the fire
crack their kneecaps and ankle joints
orange toes and yellowed muscle
stretch between the hearth teeth
the moan of their aches crawls the chamber 
unknotting fingers
unravelling cartilage 
in the creak
I see the hands of fathers I know
and do not know
knuckles coal-dusted
round-pressed into the hum of the flame 
sifting between the tangles 
of blackening muscles
the colour of plum 
and tourmaline
night shades
seeking sun in the sear
the fire knows and obliges
the yellow swell of its breast a little sweeter
a little rounder
bright for aurora-starved eyes,
the fire kisses
it has been a long day, love
you best eat, love

the legs of the fire, love
they are yours
they are mine
the legs of the fire, love
will be there to say goodnight

Cover image: collage using Rene Magritte’s ‘The Banquet’, and Amedeo Modigliani’s ‘Girl with Braids’. Crafted by the Editing Team.

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