There were 29 boys and men in a tranquil glen
somewhere between the whitewashed mountains
that marked the beginning and the end
of their known world.
around a fire
built by two hands,
lit by one match,
breathing the same air they breathed.
Five of them didn't have much to say,
just the occasional odd comment or memory.
Seven were full of laughter
and ephemeral tears.
They couldn't quite stay on topic.
Four were somber indeed -
their sky-colored eyes pierced,
of deep loss and deep joy.
The next two were vivacious.
Like children born a second time,
enthusiastic to a fault,
they jumped on every conversational bandwagon,
or started their own,
with unmistakable assurance
that they alone were correct.
Five more had the most exciting stories,
the most wondrous tales,
and a craving for knowledge
that couldn't be satisfied.
One was the most sorrowful of the lot.
Aged, weathered, cracked,
with a penetrating, unblinking stare,
evidencing that deep, ancient wisdom
the others had only heard about:
But three had known the others so long,
that they spent the most time
asking the Heart-Broken One
to tell his tale
again and again
and again and again,
gleaning new insights from each retelling.
The last one stood quietly,
observing them all from a distance:
the ebbs and flows of conversation,
the synergy of their fellowship,
wondering: who lit the fire?