Stone Fire Root Vespers

Some days I look through the window,

sister, and say prayers like antlers

spidering toward the sky’s silver ladders,

and I recall climbing that medieval

stone fireplace in our childhood home

on Ohio Street. No matter how warm

it was, those stones were cool

as spilled water, and they shaped

oblong in our small hands. These

our prayers the way we prayed, all hands

and assumption. And sister, you were

the one who climbed over the fire

when you matched my wall height, 

always you turned through the ache, 

and I’m the one who waited below.

Now I hear rocks loosed and rumbling

in the storm, and a bright thorn breaks

through clouds where my thoughts

cannot reach, where ballooned we send

our sublimated selves, our emanations

to some old oak seeded and trunked

in starlight. Whatever we send attends

its fire-root, spiked and dangerous to hold.

You were always climbing, sister, always

the one who climbed over the fireplace,

and I’m the one who waited, my hands

now empty as I look where you departed.


Poet Jesse Breite looking pensive in the woods.

Jesse Breite’s recent poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in River Heron Review, Plant-Human Quarterly, Tar River Poetry, and Rhino. His first full-length poetry collection is forthcoming from Fernwood Press. Jesse teaches high school in Atlanta, Georgia, where he lives with his wife and two kids. More at jessebreite.com.