I tend to my heart like a fire,

with occasional poking and prodding,

to be sure the spirit of the thing remains intact.


From a distance I inspect the damage,

do my best to roll the logs to an even burn.


At its weakest, oxygen is the best thing.


I give it space and step back to admire

the effect on its embers, newly flooded

with light from the inside, like a blush,


Like red rush that paints my cheeks

at the peak of a newly discovered summit.


Here, in an ocean of tall grass,

I harvest things for burning —

lost tree limbs, dried pine needles,

loose bark ripped from its trunk by a black bear

scratching some ancient itch.


I pass a tuft of her snagged fur

between my fingers and think of her heart,

how it is tended, what messages she leaves

behind in the scent of her spread

across this juniper landscape.


She is no stranger to fire,

and its unpredictable wildness,

how it takes, how it spawns new growth,

how it can be fed or smothered,

scorch or spare,


How there comes a season

when the forest floor is no more

than a trail of coals to be braved

by padded feet, stepping quickly,

with instinct, into new territories.

J. Heimberger (she/her), 28, is a nomadic nurse and poet based in New York, now traveling the United States in her self converted van. Her work can be found across several journals online and in print including Typishly, Beyond Words Magazine and more.

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