Saturday, November 03, 2012


Salem South (3/30)

When he came home for lunch that day, it was just lunch.
Not an event that would leave seventeen families nomads.
It was just lunch. I am sure he did not mean to leave the skillet

used to fry burger, well done smoldering on burner. It was just
lunch. Not some event that would lead to devastation.
Just lunch. When the stay at home moms and dad saw
the smoke signals, when they broke down the door.

Someone must have panicked.
Someone must have panicked.
Everyone knows you do not throw water on a grease fire.
Everyone knows that, right?

Someone threw water on a grease fire and the
flames crawled up the walls like a rash. Seeking higher

purchase. Seeking attic space full of oxygen. Fire loves
oxygen that is how it learns to breathe out loud. Seventeen
families will lose everything. Sixteen families will loose everything.
The seventeenth family will recover some.

There is nothing more frightening than light bulbs exploding
and firemen demanding that you leave. My brother and I
made twin bed canoe stowed precious belongings inside
rode it down the stairs. Exiting.

It all went up. All went up in flames over lunch.
We sat on canoe bed refuge eating the Jell-O my sister saved.
Watched all we had burn. Watched water rise to levels
that seemed impossible, It was only lunch.

When the Red Cross came they put us in a hotel. We showered.
Could not wash smoke from our skin. Could not wash smoke
from our skin, our hair for weeks. I remembered the story.

The story told by my mother about the phoenix.
How it burst into flames and rose from it’s ashes.
I want to ask her if ashes from a rushed lunch counted.
Wondered if we could rise from the ashes that were now
our life. Wondered if I could ever stomach lunch again.

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