Views of the Fire
What use are feelings, but to bind you to something that doesn’t exist and can never be recovered?
Open the hollow-core door under the stairs. The oil heater is pushed against the bottom of the steps. Industrial green. Soot stained where the maintenance man shifted his weight to push the igniter back in. It won’t hold a flame.
Old coats hang on hooks. A broken tennis racket. A sand bucket filled with smooth rocks. A bare lightbulb about head high.
This January morning there is no warmth.
On the floor, a thread of flame opens its face in a jagged smile. It widens into a broad, thick laugh.
At the crest of the hill, the tree cover breaks and you see all the way down to the deep blue of the bay.
A plume of billowing white twists lazily in the still sky. Black streaks and smudges mar the pristine canvas. The landscape is stark and motionless, frozen in a patient pose.
The road draws you down like an ancient conduit.
A careening, crazy fireball, awash in intense percussive power, malevolent and destructive, Abbadon incarnate.
The flames leap from the small house and scale the towering maples. Reds, whites, blues, yellow, blacks: hysterical paint streaks, the brush slapped against rough plywood, elemental heat gulping cold air, ice particles evaporating, the heat voracious and insistent, unyielding.
– This is the strongest fire I’ve ever seen.
– Let it burn out.
An ash flake stands like an axe blade on the charred counter, mottled grey, white, black. The rubble is warm underfoot. The charred house frame whispers its uncertain message.
An inventory can not catalog what was lost because it never existed now that it is gone.