The Alchemist Takes a Lover in the Infinite Variety of Fire

In the arcane wilderness,
far from the commerce and rage,
the artifex and his soror mystica
watch the precious distillates
stream against the glass.
Male soul and female spirit
they seek not only the alchahest,
the aurum vulgi of the day,
but night’s subterranean coin,
an aurum philosophicum
of sure golden illumination
cracked from the celestial egg.
Sulfur and quicksilver fuse
in the depths of their study,
a sleeping deity stirs 
in the bellows of their breath:
the sick metals are cured,
a glowing stone revealed.
Far from cities and nations
in the untamed birdsong wood,
the alchemist and his lover
join bodies and minds
in rites of transmutation
to feel their warmth ascend.
From calcination to sublimation
in the vas hermitca of self,
mercurial essence is renewed
by flight dazzling and precise.
Fire, as it leaps against the grate,
never dances the same dance twice.

(First appeared in Asimov's SF Magazine)