The night was cool, cooler than any other since we’d arrived at camp on Wednesday. It was the last night of Rope Camp; it felt fitting that it be spent by the fire.
Elf had prepared the wood earlier and now tended the flames while a smattering of people sat on the benches around him. I rested at Gray’s knee as he smoked his cigar.
Looking beyond our circle, I saw a small flame on the ground. For a moment I wondered what it was for. I did not have to wait long to learn.
Elf walked over, quickly spun a can through the air, pulled out fire poi, and lit them. Tonight would truly be a night of flames.
Elf danced with his poi far enough from the circle to be safe, but closer than I’d ever been to the act. As his poi whooshed through the air, the sound amazed me. I never knew it was so loud.
His movements were powerful and fluid, almost magical. I was in awe. Lines of burning orange and glowing blue traced across a black background. His body’s form came into light and laid in darkness time and time again.
When his poi finally went out, I marveled at the act. And then a friend sitting next to Gray and I at the fire made a suggestion.
“You should get a fire hug.”
When Elf returned to the circle, I asked. He agreed, but wanted to know if I had experienced the act before. I had not.
He described the protocol of how I would approach him, how he would take the last few steps, and noted I needed to be wearing natural fiber clothing. Of all that I wore against the chilled air, only my leather boots would be fitting for this endeavour.
Elf and Ember took multiple turns spinning before it was time for me to experience the hug. In those intervening minutes, Gray finished his cigar and retired for the evening.
When the time came, I stripped. The cool of the night tickled my skin. Elf lit his poi, stepped back to where he wished to spin, and called me forward.
“Walk straight towards me.” My steps were measured, even; it felt as if I were entering a sacred space. “Stop.” Elf took the last few steps towards me.
We were now nose to nose, our bodies less than a breath away.
“This is how the earth feels. One side of her body is always towards the Sun.”
I found my eyes locked onto his. The sound of the flames was even more intense than I imagined.
“This is called butterfly.”
I could feel the heat pattern change, could feel the increase in temperature as he spun around us. I closed my eyes, felt his flames, felt a connection. I leaned my forehead onto his chin. He kissed my forehead, then nuzzled my head up and kissed my lips. It was magical.
He stepped back, taking away his flame. My hug ended, Elf continued to dance. I had had my moment.
As I hurried back to my spot, Rough called me over. On his phone were two photos of my hug which he sent to me.
Shivering but gleeful, I re-dressed and said to my friend as I rejoined the fire circle, “I need to learn poi.”
Comments are disabled on this post