Life Gathers Around the Fire

The breeze that gathers today whispers in the bay and oak leaves of the forest that surrounds the orchard.
I am walking the rows. Looking at the way the bulbs swell on the tips of each branch. Small, tart orbs ribbed with red stripes.
Harvest looms ahead: the sweat and then relief of it.
Tonight the fog doesn’t come in and Joe and I sit outside off the porch tending an open fire and watching the stars slowly emerge.
We gather around the fire and tell all that has happened in the day.
The Allen boys with their news of town. Who crashed their buggy on the racetrack. What opera is playing in the opera house. Who has fallen sick or died.
Then, Joe leans back placing his strong arms behind his head and says. “Tell me a story Ma.”
And I giggle. It is the same story each time. Another chapter out of the Odyssey. Only, we don’t stick to the plot. In our version, Odysseus never did find his way home but continued journeying on.
Island to island.
And so it is each night and so it has been since he was just a boy. I dream up another island out of air and we step upon it and inhabit it under the starry night.

Iris Jamahl Dunkle’s poetry collection, There's a Ghost in this Machine of Air is forthcoming from Word Tech in 2015. Her first collection, Gold Passage, won the Trio Award and was published by Trio House Press in 2013. Her chapbooks Inheritance and The Flying Trolley were published by Finishing Line Press. Her poetry, essays and creative non-fiction have been published in Fence, Volt, The New Guard, Lake Effect, Sugar Mule, Calyx and many more journals. Dunkle teaches writing and literature at Napa Valley College. She received her B.A. from the George Washington University, her M.F.A. in Poetry from New York University, and her Ph.D. in American Literature from Case Western Reserve University. She is on the staff of the Napa Valley Writers conference.