Pictures in the Fire

I warm inside when I recall
Those far-off days when I was small
And found such pleasure sitting nightly
By a fire that burned so brightly.

Time has flown, but I remember
Staring at each glowing ember
Lost in dreamy contemplation
Of the coal fire’s fascination.

Weird shapes and gaping holes
Were formed between the balanced coals
And pictures of all kinds of things
Appeared in my imaginings:

Strange images of distant places;
Animals and grotesque faces;
Jungle trees and mountain ranges;
Phantom scenes with constant changes;

Fairylands, all clean and bright;
A giant’s lair in dim, red light,
But — steadily — the caverns grew
As walls between them burned right through.

A sudden CRASH and down they came,
Surmounted by a dancing flame
That flickered with a yellow glow,
Becoming orange; burning low.

Today, coal fires, in many ways,
Remind me of my childhood days
And of the times I’d take a look
Inside and find a picture book.