Readings in Contemporary Poetry

Susan Stewart

We needed fire to make

the tongs and tongs to hold

us from the flame; we needed

ash to clean the cloth

and cloth to clean the ash's

stain; we needed stars

to find our way, to make

the light that blurred the stars;

we needed death to mark

an end, an end that time

in time could mend.

Born in love, the consequence-

born of love, the need.

Tell me, ravaged singer,

how the cinder bears the seed.

© 1995 from The Forest (University of Chicago Press)