One Single Impression: Smoke

This is not a fire
Said the sign
At the sugar house.
We are working,
The sign said.
Wood smoke billowed
For days and days
As the sap that had risen
From the earth to feed the tree
And was siphoned from the veins
Of the long and elegant arms of spring
Yielded the clean water
Of countless snows
To the heat of the flame.


The fire burned for days.

There was no fight or surrender--

Only time and work.

Remember this.

One Single Impression


  1. Nicely done, Sandy! I like that OSI site too :)

  2. We have a sugar plant not too far from us, it shut down a few years back. I went on a field trip there with one of my grandchildren. It was amazing to see how sugar is processed. Lots of fire, lots of water ... and lots of hard work!

    I enjoy this.

  3. Dowm in South GA there was a horrible fire this past year and later it was determined to have been caused by sugar dust...which is very flameable.

    The plant was not keeping it clean enough and the inspectors failed to see that the dust was kept out.

    Several workers were burned to death and others injured which has caused the plant to be shut down and many lawsuits have been filed.

  4. Sandy,
    Was this the making of maple syrup???

  5. Hi Sandy, this is how the hens feel also. But the poor little piggies sacrifice so much more.

    I surely never did think along your lines before with vegetation but often have pitied the poor animals we eat (not so much for the milk or egg producers).
    Thank you.

  6. Dear Sandy--
    This poem is so evocative for me, as one of the most pleasant memories of my childhood was making maple syrup with my father, brother and uncle. I would go with dad to tap the maple trees--at just the right spot, just the right time. And then collect the water 'of countless snows' into this huge vat, that then would have to be cooked, without stopping for days. They would take turns stoking the fire and stirring the vat, until I'd awake one morning to the most delicious treat imaginable...fresh maple syrup on homemade buttermilk pancakes.

    Thank you for this poem...and the 'no fight or surrender...only time and work' line. I'm going to wander around that one for awhile.

    Many thanks!

  7. When reading your poem I first thought about Maple Syrup being made. Then I thought about the sugar shack and fires burning... I am reluctant to take those thoughts any further.

  8. An interesting process at work here.

  9. An excellent poem.
    Thank You.

  10. "An excellent poem.
    Thank You."

  11. In this time of instant gratification, we often take for granted how much sweat and tears goes into the making of anything and everything.

    Odd, but all I can think of now is the song The Sugar Shack. Remember that one? Because now it's stuck in my head!

  12. I remember when I was in the second grade going on a field trip to see maple syrup made, then having pancakes and sausage for our lunch.

    Good memories and a good poem.

  13. Wonderful. I love the use of the sign to point out that the sign of smoke isn't really what you might think. This poem has a lot of different levels present in it. I will come back and read it again and again. Thank you.

  14. Just--wow. I enjoyed the story on the surface, but know I need to listen to the deeper message of persistence and patience. I just love this, and such a great use of the prompt.

  15. Love your opening line: this is not a fire. We're always told, Where there's smoke, there's fire, but this has a kind of Rene Magritte ("This is not a pipe") surreal quality to it! I hadn't thought of it like that before.

  16. I have never seen a sugar plant, least of all know how sugar was processed. I would like to find out more.

  17. Your poem evoked for me, the first time I ever observed a sugaring or "sugar off" as the participants called it. I'd forgotten the smell of the wood smoke.

  18. You have such a way with words.

  19. Hmm, you brought the process to life! I had no clue!

  20. I wish I had half your command of language. If I did, perhaps I'd be able to find words sufficiently elegant to pay proper homage to this piece. It's brilliant and beautiful and wistful.

    A wonder.

  21. yes this poem is lovely! Sandy you have such a wonderful way with words and you are so expressive! Such a great poem about making sugar or maple syrup, the love and care that goes into making it!

  22. I like the tone and style of this piece.

  23. Very nice one here.

  24. This is something I know nothing about; it was really interesting poem as an observer.

  25. I loved the way you ended it, Sandy :)

    Nice poem,


  26. Your poetry always moves me. It's always deep, no matter the subject. Beautiful as always.

  27. Anonymous4:52 PM

    Yes, it is that time of year. I saw some trees with buckets last week when we were in New Hampshire.

    I never compared sugaring to production farming, but having grown up raising beef and chickens, I see what Jim means in his comment. I agree, and could never go back to doing the other.

  28. Interesting, well-written poem Sandy...I learned something while reading it (I love when that happens)- thanks!

  29. Year after year it still happens-wonderful poem about it!!

  30. hello sandy... there are so many visions between the letters, words and spaces... i cannot help but to think of the sugarcane fields in hawaii, and water-rebirth, fire-purification, sweat and toil... also love the way you set it up both in the beginning "...the sign.." and "...remember this.." sorta haunting in a way... again, thank you for the weekly prompts, it is always enjoyable to participate and read others as well... renee


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