You cannot stand before a fire on the prairie and feel not the life held within it. It breathes, it grows, it moves and sighs, it eats and flickers and withers and dies. Wind at its back, nothing resists it, the relentless hunger for fuel and air stops for nothing and no-one. Behind it lies the ashes of victims and the curiosity of those safe, a clean slate for regrowth and fertile ground for life. You cannot control a fire; you coax it, tease it, guide it or turn it. Properly lured and fattened, it will follow a docile trail but turns at the slightest distraction, always at the sharp edge from lamb to lion. Disloyalty is the inherent nature of a prairie burn, ready at any moment to turn on master and home, caring not if its fingers chase and wrap friend or foe in grasp.
Near fire, one moves or else is cornered, a reluctant beau captured in the arms of a lover. A stumble here, a fall there, and I would know the fire closer, beyond warmed face and feet, joining blackened prairie in the next rebirth. A philosopher might contemplate the choice and hesitate but I place a diligent foot, concentrating on the present path. Each step through the darkness and haze offers the choice of tomorrow or forever and I feel it as I tread lightly amid the pyre of old life. Through smoke, cross ash, lies safety and home. I move there through the embers, joining clear cool air, a single step from peril to possibility; like the prairie, a single line of fire separating yesterday from tomorrow.