The Keeping Room

by bg Thurston

I light the woodstove, then
lean against the cracked lintel,
watching the flames’ shadows
rise in the quiet of this room.

I will never know the stories
of the women who cooked
meal after meal for the last
two hundred and fifty years.

How they baked thousands
of loaves of bread in the beehive
oven, stirred stews in iron pots
hung from the swinging crane.

Sometimes, I imagine a room
full of fevers, nursing mothers,
chairs and cradles rocking,
and the flutter of bible pages.

If the hearth is truly the heart
of the home, this space retains
the echo of every person’s soul
and the dreams they cherished.

What this room forever keeps
are the secrets of those who stood
right here, holding themselves
and all they loved close to the fire.