My Children & I Sit Around the Fire Roasting Marshmallows Telling Stories & Dreaming About the Future

We watch the flames, pass time, vicariously live other realities—
broadening our view & exploring new things,
shrinking the world into what we can view—both dirty & beautiful.

We roast marshmallows. And, as we taste
the sticky sweetness, suck the leftovers from our fingers,
we watch tales untold unfolding in the fire,

embers bright cherry, the whole world suddenly unfurled.
I spit new words into the flames & like the old ones, they belong
to the children. I wonder if they still want them,

challenge myself to be, but it’s not something
I’m used to since I’ve already given them all I am. But, right here,
around the flames, my marrow clings

to crackling wood under a dark canopy,
ashes falling cold on our feet. There will be stories they’ll never get to tell—
stories giving them something to believe in

or surfacing mistakes. We don’t let the fire burn out;
we watch it climb, smoke, move branches. I look beyond
the trees saying our names as I slowly recall

the moments when they were small,
from where & when & why they were born,
remembering tiny giggles, small hands, boo-boos, smiles.

There are scars to surface, laying the foundation of their histories
that have yet to be. We laugh until we cry, speak of the future,
the day when they will float up, grow beaks, feathers—fly.

The stories of what will happen tomorrow have yet to be real;
the future awaits them & their places beside me predict
everything about the adults they’ll become.

Ariana D. Den Bleyker is a Pittsburgh native currently residing in New York’s Hudson Valley, where she is a wife and mother of two. When she’s not writing, she’s spending time with her family and every once in a while sleeps. She is the author of three collections, including Wayward Lines (RAW ArT PRESS, 2015), the chapbooks Forgetting Aesop (Bandini Books, LLC, 2011), Naked Animal (Flutter Press, 2012), My Father Had a Daughter (Alabaster Leaves Publishing, 2013), Hatched from Bone (Flutter Press, 2014), On Coming of Age and Stitches (Origami Poems Project, 2014), On This and That (Bitterzoet Press, 2015), Strangest Sea (Porkbelly Press, 2015), Beautiful Wreckage (Flutter Press, 2015), Unsent (Origami Poems Project, 2015), The Peace of Wild Things (Porkbelly Press, 2015), Knee Deep in Bone (Hermeneutic Chaos Press, 2015), Birds Never Sing in Caves (dancing girl press, 2016), Cutting Eyes from Ghosts (Blood Pudding Press, 2017), Scars Are Memories Bleeding Through (Yavanika Press, 2018), A Bridge of You (Origami Poems Project, 2019), and Even the Statue Weeps (dancing girl press, forthcoming 2019). She is also the author of three crime novellas, a novelette, and an experimental memoir. She hopes you’ll fall in love with her words.

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