Flames rise, pouring sparks upwards –
red specks flickering
among the billion bright
of a black winter sky.
Faces glow in the firelight
while buttocks freeze,
then vice versa,
as we all enact
a slow human rotisserie.
while as the flames die down
leaves and branches gone,
back to the air they grew from,
we edge inwards
towards the great stumps and trunks
that will still be smouldering tomorrow.
(Imagine us from above, seen in time lapse:
we dance a slow, primal country dance –
spinning on the spot in concentric rings,
which gradually close around the flames.)
A blue dragon dances
past the towering fire,
head swinging to a drum beat
body swaying gracefully,
and followed behind
by a dozen children
gathered from the dark depths
by its glowing lure.
A pair of buskers,
adequate to the occasion,
lit by the church-hall porch-light
provide a backing track
to the how-have-you-beens
exchanged by the fire.
Firefighters stand around,
poking un-burnt branches into the flames,
the red and blue lights of their engines
flashing in the background,
and the reflective strips on their suits
catching the firelight as they move
sending ripples of light across them
like deep-sea creatures.
As the flames sink
from white-yellow towers
to orange-red mounds
darkness creeps closer
and young blood is overwhelmed
with the sugar of too many
or blatantly blackened marshmallows,
and the knee-high and hyper
run in packs like ferals –
for a moment
from the dark
then disappearing again
Swaggering teens cluster
their swearing still sitting,
like sharp stones in their mouths
to be spat out from their hoodies
with awkward bravado
as they light sticks
in the marshmallow-toasting fires
now abandoned by their smaller siblings.
And so we are separated by age
(or volume? mass?)
by this strange centrifuge effect –
slowly rotating adults by the fire,
then gangling teens in their half-lit clusters,
and then the little ones,
running rings around us all in the darkness.
Until, dad’s beer and mum’s wine finished,
the sausages, served with bread and gossip,
savoured and swallowed down,
the rings start to mingle,
as by ones and twos and threes
parents gather their teens,
their little ones,
and walk away into the darkness
under the billion bright
of a black winter sky.
6 responses to “Sutton bonfire night”
Such evocative words, reminding me of childhood bonfire nights!
🙂 Thanks Ingrid. Bonfire night is one of the highlights of winter for us.
SO lovely! What great observations!
Very vivid, great writing at its best.
Thanks Lawrence ❤
There is something about a communal bonfire … you captured the experience so well Kate.