The house burned

elsieThe house burned

like it was made of mirth

combusting into pink fire

licking awning trees of bark

only in quiet the ebbing surge

crackling the ending of us

we stood stamping our feet

against night’s chill

aware of our crumpled clothes

out of place in uniform street

you mouthed the words

what about the photos?

we cannot replace them

I felt briefly

as if I were looking through

the albums in fast motion

here is childhood

here is love

here is loss

here is the time you broke your arm

on a sledge going too fast

oh how we laughed

until it hurt

the pictures of my grandmother

I thought I knew

her inner workings like a familar clock

turns out she held herself back

like reluctant bride still

harkens for her girlhood

turns out photos are mazes

misleading those who inherit

pieces of puzzles

we put them back together

thinking if they smile

if they look happy and well

this must be so

and call it our legacy of relatives

though they are strange in their secrets

curled like dried flowers beneath them

perhaps now that they coin and turn

to ash and like the tinder they are

evaporate into midwinter skies

to join the stars

truth will come nosing around

I felt less burdened knowing

what is right here

in this cold street

underneath the unflattering lamp

making us look owlish and long faced

is more honest than

the boxes we carried on our backs

playing pass the parcel with the past

like camels

reaching into dunes

weary from their stored


7 thoughts on “The house burned

  1. “And call it our legacy of relatives though they are strange in their secrets” are truly “pieces of puzzles”.
    So true! My relatives are like puzzle pieces …some seem to fit perfectly and some like me, must be a part of a different puzzle! Wonderful and emotional writing! Thank you so much!

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