May 022010

by Jen Blair


To burn is a selfish thing.
They said it trimming the wicks
on the candelabra, polishing
gold chandeliers never once lit.
Desire is a casket lined with old
dead women hair, a place not to
be trapped no matter the hour.
To flame is spectacle, the under
neath side of the dress turned out,
hosts of rat tails pinned to the fabric;
the excised scene of the play, a traveler
howling down on the ground among
rotted gourds, a mouldered bounty
dismal harvest, horn of plenteous
disease, faint braille of bumps
deciduous, sinking back to earth.
To burn is a selfish thing.
Once they had only to say it for
me to believe it, but daughter
I tell you this: our bodies are the
wet mulch from which buildings
grow. But they are also tinder—
tool—and when warred against
long enough, the reticence breaks,
our hands ignite.