Fire Language

(a poem by Ann K. Schwader — original at

What kindled in that cave were names of things
like sparks from stars.

Tongues struck against a thought
again, & then again, as foxfire quickened
in mute amino acids where mutation
sang out as hands had not.

No innovation
of stick or stone or bone, but flame incarnate
from brains no longer solitary, silent
in their pale chambers.

Spiraling those walls
with verbs & nouns, identity & action
united by synaptic galaxies,
we wrote our labyrinth.

Defined our pattern
as ever outward, going forth on fire.

—after Charles Sandison’s video installation Chamber


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