The Fire Poems, Part 1

1. Picture of a Burned-Out House

You can still see what it looked like before the fire.
You can still see the outline where it seared the sky.
Look-
     That’s the slope of the roof
     Those were the kitchen chairs
     There was where the walls met
     These were the stairs
     Here is where you lived
and I can still see you in it, too:
     This is your burnt outline
          Like a police chalking of a body
          Like your shadow melted to the wall

This was the place before it happened.
I could give a tour of this wreckage.
Look at this mess.
Watch where you step— the nails survived the fire
     spite solidified, tetanus and rust
     proof that there isn’t a god and you were wrong all along.

This was where the firetrucks sat and screamed
and threw up their hands at a job badly done.

This is a photograph of the fire
          and here is another and another and another and
All the photos you had of the house when it was whole
          were in the house and eaten whole.

This is where you kept the photos. This is the fire that ate them.
So take this one instead.
     Remember your house with its hair on fire.
     Remember the paint blistering.
     And all those little things you loved, so much, as only ash against an orange sky.


Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6

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