by Naomi Fast
The woodcutter sold us bundles
of sticks for the woodstove which
consumed them to stew beans, bake
bread, purify drinking water. In the
yard another fire burned all day
under a blistered barrel, boiling
clothes-washing water. Keeping fires
burning was a daily chore. The tired
red coals had to be revived each morning,
a woman’s job. They were contained,
bored with lack of escape, unlike the wild
fires that caught and grew in the dry
grass, that galloped toward the villages
and had to be fought off by men
with brooms, shovels and prayer all night.
* * * * * *
Kajiji Fires is a Pushcart Prize nominee and winner of a 2003 Academy of American Poets Prize. It was originally published in the 2009 edition of the Portland, Oregon anthology, VoiceCatcher.
Naomi Fast grew up in Fresno, Brussels, and Kajiji, a gentle, rural place in the Democratic Republic of Congo. She holds Master of Arts degrees in Creative Writing & Theater Arts from Portland State University, where she’s been an adjunct professor since 2006. After completing her Master’s degree in Poetry Writing at Portland State University, Naomi served on the Editorial Collective for the Fall 2011 edition of VoiceCatcher and has published poetry across the country (in Dogwood, the anthology Empty Shoes, and Pacific Yachting to name a few). She’s also been compiling several collections of her work, and—as time and resources allow—is translating a book of poetry by Congolese poet Olivier Sangi Lutondo, in dedication to her childhood home, Kajiji, Zaire.
If you’re interested in supporting this project financially or otherwise,
you can get in touch with Naomi via LinkedIn or send a letter to:
P.O. Box 5724
Portland, OR 97228