The Fire Poems, Part 4

4. The Plight of the Baby Heart

Hey, did I ever tell you? My eyes were cut wide open and I came into this world swinging an aluminum bat.
So step aside baby heart uncut teeth unsplit lip undropped shoe.
These are my murdering hands. This is my working shirt. That is what I have done. All laid out like intention.
Put that ax down, baby heart. It isn’t going to snow here. We don’t need wood for the fire.

I’ve spent the last twenty-five years sewing my lips shut and scraping my nose off against the pavement.
I’m not going to stop talking until I’ve run out of things to say, baby heart, so stop waving that ax at me.
No, listen. I’m sorry I burned the house down. I really am.
I drove over spilled books on a highway yesterday. But now I’m getting ahead of myself.

Will you put that ax down? You’re not fooling anyone. It isn’t going to get cold. We won’t need a fire.
I’m sorry I burned the house down. I didn’t know you were inside.
If I did— What did I say about waving that around? You don’t have the hands for it. We don’t need the wood.
If I did— Are you going to let me finish now? Sew those lips shut and let me tell you something, baby heart.

If I did, I would have locked the door on my way out. I would have done the job right if I knew what it meant.
Put it down, baby heart uncut teeth unsplit lip undropped shoe.
This is not what betrayal looks like. I promise that you’ll know it when you see it.
The bad truth is that I never escaped this little how-town with these little who-faces.
I tried, baby heart. I really tried. But this town grew into me and latched itself into my bones.

Now I can’t tell if it moves me or I move it but either way, I would’ve locked the door if I knew you were inside.
You can blame the town if you want. You can blame me. Either way, it doesn’t change what happened.
I’ll always regret that I did not know. But where was I? What was I saying?
Oh right. The books. Thanks, baby heart. You always know what I mean.

I drove over spilled books on the highway yesterday. You would have called it a poem.
Spines were split like a car accident and pages smeared across the asphalt.
I know what you’re thinking and no, I didn’t stop and I didn’t call the cops but there was so much blood.
So much blood you wouldn’t believe it. And I thought hey, wow, this is just like you, baby heart.

These are your uncut teeth. This is your unsplit lip. That is your undropped shoe. All laid out like intention.
These are sticky fingers smearing life where I never wanted it.
This is the red crayon on the woodwork.
That is a match in a dark hallway that didn’t know you were home.

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

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