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Rental Fire

The stairs in this house are steep
and as he runs up He smacks each step
with his hands
I see him come because I sleep out here,
in the hallway room
he doesn’t know I'm awake
So he shakes the bed and says “get up the barn’s on fire.”

Dorothy, who owns our house, owns the barn
Her hands are burnt
she’s holding them limply
near her face she’s shaking she says
She pulled open the doors. Her horses are still inside.

Max and I watch
The light jumps on our faces “I love this”
I whisper
“shhhh” he says
because of Dorothy and her limp hands But his eyes
are evil like mine

When I run back inside
all the windows are small and
Its dark and the fire is breathing
right over my shoulder
I run up the stairs as fast as I can- hands on the floor- the fire’s following

One tiny window faces the barn flickering bright red
An eye looking in waiting for me
To find something that’s mine
“What would you take?”

I wrap my arms around a shelf of notebooks
I carry them with me Avoiding
the puddles that are reflecting the flames
there’s so much water and I remember
That you can start fire with mirrors

In the morning some Mexicans are shoveling
loads of burnt hay Out of the skeleton barn. I'm waiting
For the bulldozer to lift a horse limp and wet
Like a dead woman, back arched and front legs hanging back impossibly
Past her ears

Through the tiny window, I'm watching
The news crew set up their shot.
The fire didn’t spread but the horses are dead and
None of this belongs to me
I think of Dorothy
and her limp hands and try to feel sorry. But I'm thinking
about the journals I saved and though it didn't matter,
how they were the wrong ones
and all empty.



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