The man who brings the ice
brings coal to our porch
in burlap bags but not today.
We could be those children
scrounging along the tracks
for bits of coal fallen from gondolas.
Our last piece of coal, I want to keep it,
with its delicate fossil of a fern exposed.
My mother has no trouble
deciding between beauty or comfort in December.
In a room where you can see your breath
she breathes: dust, dirt, black coal, fire…
But fuel not fern is the final word
thrown on the dying fire where it begins to glow,
finely drawn pencil lines, finally taken to flame.
Yet I watch until my eyes burn,
all the heat I get, that and night's thin blanket.
Old clothes, coats the things
I would gladly trade to save the fern.