Nearing fire

Ophelia_by_EarthDefectShe was not a hunter

She did not compete

There were no hands on the tinder clocks, rebinding feats.

When it rained, she stayed dry

Her hearth and rug, small morsels of comfort clutched

For not venturing out, salved potential for harm.

She grew up on the black hard bread of fear

Of the river breaking its banks and drowning

Those she loved

It was an inherited sense of loss

Passed down through heavy curtains, generations of individuals, feeling cast off

All the instability of fine china, balancing, teetering, turning to shattered lotuses.

She saw what happened when they lied and said she was safe

She could feel the pink welts, smell the violation, as it poured down the road, a torrent of what humanity can do

To a child.

She grew scars as self armor

Moved further to the fireplace to touch the source of its continual scald

When it stormed outside she didn’t join the rushing tide

The pinches, taunts, jostling, glut on perpetual war

Plasma and soldiers, drunk on devouring dear goodness

She stayed listening to the sound of the rasping wind

Beating on the old oak door

As if everything possible came together and fought

To get inside.

She stayed set apart from her given trajectory, a kite who cut her wings

Turning to liquid and back into wax, only to melt, nearing fire

They say fear is an echo, set the trap, watch it snap back

Until, submerged there’s no end, but the point you began, to let it rule.

She watched fear remove, her skin, her sight, and blind with fright, she consumed her own shadow

Till it was the only place to return, and burning into reduction she saw the reflection of someone with nothing to lose.

Expunging soot from her stained lungs, she let herself pass through the cloak of heat, demolishing every trace

Rising from emptiness, becoming ash in air and last dancer of ember, she saw

Hands spin trees into forests, reclaiming what was lost, in hungering inferno.

A girl who closed the door and checked beneath the bed, was gone

In her place the outline of a cowering form, afraid, yet, stepping from

The thin ledge we believe protects us from imagined harm

When all along we torment ourselves with far greater, considered terrors

Better that we face head on, destroy facade, turn to rubble and rebuild

Our resolution for survival, as we will always near, fire.

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The year was 2005

oooo-burnThe year was 2005

an explosion rocked

the quiet neighborhood

of my emotions

afterward, wiping debris off

seeing my reflection, a soot covered mask

I could not hear anything anymore

except the ringing of my heart

which beat far too fast

anxiety

got me

by the throat

and choked

the peace

out

like a burlap bag and lump of coal can still burn in snow

it took years to mend

like piecing a broken bowl with slim chain of gold

smoothing cracks that have become so used

to remaining fissures

and even then, a hair-line fracture exists

permitting a little light

disturbance

felt in darkness as you turn

trying to dream

when trauma

explodes bombs

in your quiet space

it’s not the sound you lose

but the belief that anything

will ever

be okay again

yet there is a lesson learned

in suffering we survive

in survival we know

next time

if there is a next time and there always is

we may lament and hurt

fall to our knees as debris rains down

but surely afterward, we will stand again

that is the enduring legacy

of survival

and even betrayal

and even death

does not contain enough

to outwit our yearning

to outfox the determining

steel hand of fate

slapping us down

we rise like Atlantic waves in August

will conjure wet inferno, juxtaposing

energies like herculean warriors

in great walls of dark water

hitting each other until there is nothing

but smooth glass remaining

and a fever tells us

it is over

for now

with wobbling legs we

survey the wreckage

of ourselves

realizing with pain comes

a long after-tow and if

you hang on long enough

the sun

breaks

through

low-lying

cloud

warming those

who believed themselves

expired

Greater solace

651d3294ace9c6e46b0b18587904b847

There you are

picture yourself

standing in a vacated room

the walls are nondescript

from the window comes a little wan sun

hardly enough for warmth

you pull yourself closer

recalling how as a child

sitting on old iron radiators in winter

they’d say you’d develop hemorrhoids

in those days

the sound of scuffed shoes running for class bell

figuring you had a few moments yet

to stare out at brick and cement

stretch out reverie

a voice inside your head

surely this isn’t all there is?

you made a pact with yourself

to get the hell out

whatever it took

gathering your books

mindful of their ticket

you forgot yourself in dream

walking past the classroom

after all

learning is better in the mind

than grind of chalk on board

some boy kicking you in the back

with sweaty socks

you knew even then

this was but a stepping stone

though if asked you couldn’t say

what of the grim facade urged you most

to escape

 

and now

all these years later

more alone than that day

when covered by childhoods vigor

and the smell of something better

just around the corner

hope has been sore in her visits

silence too often your friend

as we fall one by one out of the egg carton

we are without wings

without safety harnesses

all the others found places

in busy lives, babies, families, jobs

the weave and knot of life

whilst you stood watching out of the window

glimmering

expecting to fly

 

now in shallow rooms

artifice has left her scent

they tell you the last one has passed over

you feel it in the curve of your chest

no more hands to scoop you back

from your leaning motion to find

somewhere to breathe

where trees are ever green

sunlight full on face

obscuring all trace of bleak homes

terraced and hollow

where you can hear the flush of

neighbors loud toilet

piercing cry of another

born into fitful times

where you never understood

your own role

just the fallacy of drowning sorrows

sundays in the bar

knocking back glasses of regret

nothing could spur you faster

toward wide open space where

no trace of sorrowful city remained

 

and wherever you go

there you are

still back against the wall

still with the locked door

school girl tights bunched in your mouth

hearing muffled voices

discussing your inability to speak

how long can you hold your tongue girl?

before the need to scream

unfurled

and in one howl you swallow yourself

all the disappointment

all the lost chances

breaking through cloud

fast diminishing in oboe sky

open the storeroom of your mind

clear out those long stored hurts

preserved in obscura

 

you may feel you have nothing

but in the sundering fall of flight

we find again our urge

never to quite escape

perhaps more a reinterpretation

carrying on no more alone than before

for we are born crying in singular pitch

in each step grow further to our end

it is in the humility of knowing this

we find our greater

solace

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

thirst