by Monica Ritterband

Monica Ritterband is an artist, writer and wood stove designer.

In my highceilinged lofty tower, hour by hour,

you are presiding

round and sound and special and black

waiting in majestic serenity

for my freezing nose and toes to be back.

You are almost new,

capless you were brought by a muscular man

who puffed and blew.

You came by dolly, you came by van,

and he struggled and staggered about

and was on the verge of an angry shout.

He crowned you with a pipe on top

to send smoke and fumes and good thoughts

all the way up.

No doubt you will be my new great flame,

so say my nose and my toes,

they tell me the same,

maybe the best ever, who knows!

You swathe me in your warmest charms,

no gagging, no nagging, no clinging, no clanging

with long words and arms

and sharp, biting teeth,

you open your soft mouth and swallow everything,

shimmer out a light so mellow

with red and blue and ochre and yellow

that my slippers and my woolly socks

get the elbow and I let my toes tip-toe around

and I am submerged in your crackling sound

while my nose takes in the sweet and spicy smell

of apple and wood,

there is marmalade bubbling on the stove,

and at bedtime beech and oak is your food

and - I confess - a trifle of fir

that turns your crackle into a sputter

rather like a child that spits

his codliver-oil into the gutter.

I am in my own room,

my own reservation,

indeed, I have drawn into my private station.


from corner to corner there is a blanket,

invisible you know,

and outside

the moon is biding her time to turn the tide

from high to low,

my defences are down

and my duty has come to an end,

I am off, and so is my mask,

but you are on, my friend.

I am no longer the drudge of the day,

no longer the hilarious clown in oversized clogs.

I have no other task

than being at home, finally alone

with my woodburning stove

full of logs.

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