Fire Triptych 3
He wanted, he said, to know how fire
and did not seem to understand the answer
or to hear reply.
He sought to understand the hearth
by killing it,
for he would still deny
power that did not turn itself
to wreck its will, regardless of allother's
so never saw the secret that the fire
consumes the source which governs it.
This was our nature and the heart of
he would deny. And so he watched us,
to see how fire was made, though no
one hid from him
its source. Until he put it out.
And even then
I found myself
shaking my head
and loving him.
Go to your aunty.
she thinks "here's Maui doesn't he look fine?
I wonder what's his trouble, what
is fretting him?" And see?
She may be tired when you've left
but you'll have given her - pleasure,
by being there.
Let her show off a little.
She enjoys teaching the secret of the fire.
Well, you may sneer. You have before,
but child, remember this,
that this same shadowy Mahuea sometimes
fills the open world with rock,
and hides the sun
and clothes the bush wrapt hillside
with a cloak of living fire,
challenges the sea and wins,
splits the sky with sounds
which make the thunderclap of Papa's
like the mewling of a newborn
In bearing you, in giving birth, in raising
I am enriched.
I love you son. I love you.
I cannot set you free, I never bound
But it now seems to me,
that you cannot
so long as you so diligently
count this deadly cost
the cost that is not,
was not, never will be
It seems that you too build a universe,
out of your dreams,
as Tamahana did,
that your tight world of must and
owe will one day
bind my world and call it
And you will say you "owe me nothing"
which I can myself repeat.
You owe me nothing for you can receive
nothing of what I give
and ever shall.
I know you are a man.
It seems strange to me to wonder,
when you cuddle me, to ask
what you might want.
Always, before, I thought I knew.
You cuddle me because you want a cuddle.
This is the so-called secret of the
Vesta and Hestia, who ever were
what you call virgin
they called life.
The secret of the everlasting fire,
the spindle of the starry cosmos
and we are
what we are.
We receive and we give.
The wood you gave me is consumed,
you say. Where has it gone?
It is fire now. Fire
and food, warmth in the belly
burning in the groin.
It is become the muscle's life.
Food and the will to run or think.
And everlasting life like everlasting
We are become
one being in the warmth.
The sweet ice melts
and we are fresh.
I melt in His embrace
and I am warm.
You come to me, and try to rule me.
make my life less
that your life may be
more and my heart break,
and ask of me
Secrets of Power.
I sent him to Granny Mahuika,
Aunty Mahuea, whose sweet source
would nurture him.
But did he ask?
"Mummy says, can you lend us a little fire,
for the hearth's gone out".
She must have wondered when she heard
and saw that pout. But quietly and wryly
pulled her fingers with the other hand,
as one who
cracks a knuckle stretching it,
and handed him her finger as it burst
into a flame
and bade him
"bear it home".
and still he didn't see, the mastery
of fire, its secret sourcery
but bore the finger out of sight, and
studied it and shook it
blew upon it, stamped his foot and
put it out and studied it again.
only a charred, gnarled finger,
cooling and useless in his hand.
back he went.
"I fell grandma, and the fire went
The source of earth's wild molten core,
mother of earthquake,
soul of heat,
told lies to by a shifty boy!
My soul's ashamed
lifting her eyebrow
cracked her fingers interlaced again
and handed him a finger full of fire.
This time she held her hands up, silently,
showing her hand,
three finger fringed
and lanced his black eyes with her own.
staring at the fire as if
the secret would
unpeel to him,
into the brook that crossed the path,
drowning the fire-filled finger
So it went on, until at last
"I have no fingers left"
and flew into the trees as fire fringed
to sing at him.
Until he was enraged
Broke the branches off each tree she
to search them for the fire.
And when he did not find it,
bark to bark to fibre
fibre to dust,
until a filament of
wrought living lace dry leaves
and did a fire feed.
and up he leapt.
"Now am I master of the fire"! he said,
and bore it back triumphantly
demanding why we made such mystery of
and never saw
the smouldering branch he bore was master more than he
that which we master is the very gift of self,
and does consume us