A summer evening, an old white house—forlorn and would‐be abandoned except for the handful of friends who occupy the rooms and gather in the kitchen. Outside—the sound of cars and trucks arriving, and the group rapidly grows in number. Friends with friends.
An old concrete pool, filled with water, now covered with the leaves of the surrounding cedar trees. Old pillars whose seeds were once carried in the wind but now shade and add voice to this place.
A girl dives into the water—the un‐pristine water with its cool clear passages and emerges smiling. Her eyes as dark as coal within a radiant face—an opposing effervescence.
The sun disappears and so does the summer over‐warmth, leaving the grass, the leaves, the berries, the pine, to release their scent. The boys scramble to find wood, dragging fallen branches from the spring storms and using axes to hack into soft dead wood.
They build a tower in the middle of a forgotten lawn, which was always more pasture than dwelling space. The noise inside the house is now filled with laughter and silhouettes of conversations appear within the outline of open windows.
A match is thrown into a nest of pine needles and the tower begins its symbiotic dance with fire, the one it will engage for hours.
The fire climbs the form, first a simple flame, which expands in scale towering over everyone, who on hearing the sound of wood crackling under fire venture out and incircle.
There are no more conversations. There is no other voice but the sound of transformation. There is no other place but the space between each person watching and the heat of the flames fueled by the wind.
And the cedar trees stand watching, making contributions through fronds that float down through increasing currents. And the fire responds with clouds of tiny explosions which float up into the night air.
As the girl returns to the pool that no one else cares about and swims between the patterned debris.
(Note: written in 2016. Edited in 2019. A description of a gathering on Tolt Road, in Carnation Washington, and a pool in Bothell Washington, both when I was 18.)