The Long Burn
Gail C. DiMaggio

From the beginning, he insists on his right to fire -
carries in a wood stove like a squat, iron toad, bolts it
to a black pedestal, pierces the wall with pipe. And so the fire
burns - a source and a witness, keeping a certain fierce count of us.
He cares for that fire, husbands it - all summer
hunting oak and maple worthy to fell and chop, all winter
stuffing its tyrant maw. I am my father's child.
I know what it's like to live in a house with walls of flame,
and on this man's blandest face, I see longing for the struck match,
for heartwood and weeping branch burnt to relics, to char. Nights,
he stays downstairs nourishing his scarlet familiar. He says,
"You. Are. Crazy," and the fire bites at my
fingers, sears my wrist, sends acrid ghosts up the stairs to
choke our love-making and steal sleep.
"Isn't it the nature of fire to grow," I plead, "to grow wild?"
He doesn't answer. He's feeding my words to the flame.

Copyright 2013. All rights reserved.

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