Garret Keizer


Clean out the ash. That’s become my motto
lately, a chore-formed image I evoke:
the kitchen cook-stove’s firebox grotto,
a regular ash trap since the shakers broke,
which I need to scoop deftly from above,
masked, and if there’s ember, thick mitts required.
It’s virtually a prayer how much I love
the sight of that scooped chamber freshly fired,
how much hotter wood burns with ampler room,
discreet, scant smoke able to find its flue—
ah, chimney! The old cramped gloom
gives way to deeper passion and new
light, to have which I must practically deplore
accumulations of what flamed before.

Garret Keizer

is the author of the poetry collection The World Pushes Back, winner of the 2018 X.J. Kennedy Poetry Prize, and of eight books of prose. He is a contributing editor of Harper's and Virginia Quarterly Review.