Monday, July 17, 2017

Magic Fire


I once found some flint in a glacial toe, or an ancient cobbled riverbed, near Groningen, the Netherlands. It was the summer solstice. The sun took a long time setting. The sky was on fire for hours. I knew the rock was special just by the feel of it. Unctuous, soapy, with a clear ring, like a bell tongue. I had no idea what it was, until I struck it and sparks flew. And it sparked mightily when I struck it together.

I then I spent hours lying on my belly amid the cobbled rocks searching for flintknapped bits. Even though the hunnebeds (cairns) were nearby, I found few worked pieces. I lay down on the stones, discouraged, picked up a random handful of flint (chert), to mindlessly toss away in disgust, and there it was, a hand-worked piece. Like night and day, the difference. 

I held nascent fire in my hands. Flint! Of course, I was insufferable, dragging people into dark closets to show off the sparks.  Magic fire! Loved the odor, like fireworks and petrichor, but stronger.

I once freaked out a bunch of 5th graders by striking chert in a darkened classroom. Nobody wrote great rock poems that day but the boys saw other possibilities... Pyro poets on fire. Charles Simic was teaching at Santa Rosa Junior College at the time so I developed a lesson plan around his poem, Go Inside a Stone...

7/17/17 & 8/1/17


first draft: I once found some flint in a wash, or cobbled dry riverbed, near Groningen. I had no idea what it was, until I struck it and sparks flew. I then I spent hours searching for flintknapped bits. Even though the hunnebeds were nearby, I found few worked pieces. Most were like the photos above. I lay down on the stones, discouraged, picked up a random handful of flint (chert), to toss and there it was, a hand-worked piece. Like night and day, the difference. Of course, I was insufferably dragging people into dark closets to show off the sparks. Magic fire! 7/17/17






No comments: