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Ashes in the Grate

The ashes in the grate look grey and cold,

Just dust really.

The young, strong, bright, hot fire

That burnt so proudly yesterday

Has gone.

Though if you prod with a stick to the heart,

The embers are still warm.

I remember how the old, grey woman

Took a long, metal pipe to such a grate,

And to such grey cinders.

Stooping in the fireplace

She steadily blew,

And the cold ashes grew warmer.

Slowly, breath by breath,

They turned to red.

Then she scattered broken twigs

From the old medlar tree in the yard,

Which she had grown from a stone when a child,

And it had aged with her.

Then the fire caught.

Red were the cinders then,

And red were her cheeks,

And bright were her smile and her eyes!

Perhaps some time,

When least expected,

A wind may blow

On the cold, grey ashes,

And they will burn once more

And be useful.