The fire incites a steady rhythm of morse code dots and dashes turning into crackling paradiddles and flamadiddles as it shares its warmth with the rhythm section of the metal fireplace; the deep hollow of the house warms amidst Christmas gaiety and faith in the child born Christ.

Above the mantle, a natural wreath with pinecones like shaggy bears dancing a mythic, ritual dance around the sacred center, torches lit against the dark forest of firs; in the flicker of the fires, the fox, squirrel, and owl can be seen at the edge of the forest – watching, waiting; in the distance a rhythmic drumming matching the cadence of the bears’ dance: dot, dash, paradiddle, flamadiddle…dot, dash …

The changing of the logs provokes new crackles and groans, and the slight scent of woodburning smoke assures the audience that the fire is real; the fire is music to our ears, and warmth to our hands and hearts; hearts that savor the season, and open to one another in the spirit of love, for Love came down at Christmas.

A wisp of smoke enters the room, shy but not aloof, hoping to catch someone’s eye before disappearing like a distant, muffled church bell in the fog of a cold mid-winter night; we will carry the warmth of the fire, the light of the bears, the music of the fireplace, the love of Christ the new born Savior out into the winter’s night, over the hills, and across the land.


Richard Stokes is a retired teacher who has lived in several regions of the United States, in West Africa, and in China. As an emerging poet, he strives for diversity of voice, theme, form, and style in his writing.