Late Waiting

    “Late Waiting,” Ensign, July 1977, 59

    Late Waiting

    It’s good they know about fire,

    how to build one

    by laying kindling across the paper

    rolled and wrung

    in the base of the stove or pit;

    how to put on

    coal, large or small, to fit

    the burning time;

    how to control the smoke and size

    of the flame

    by adding

    fuel or damping;

    how to temper

    its end

    with caustic

    or time;

    the caution to give to


    how to throw out ashes.

    They’ve known since they were children

    begging to strike

    the match.

    There’s no tending now the fires

    they build

    and light.

    Only the hope that they know

    how and when and whether

    to stir

    to keep the fire

    in its place.