This Old Flame

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(Photo Illustration by Mario Weddell/The Observer)

By MARIO WEDDELL

(Photo Illustration by Mario Weddell/The Observer)

a hint of warmth from a winter flame,
this ember gasps with pulsing light.
not quite dead, as I remember
a bright glow full upon my face—
but a memory replaced by time
and ash and grime and smokey layers.
an urn of present pleasures past,
the prayers of future fuels untapped
line the chimney walls with hymnal soot
of dirty restless dreams uncertain
and postponed til passing spring renewed
the temperature inside my skin.
the fireplace for months forsaken
collected filth until the changing
seasons seat me here once again
before the brick-laid pit of flame.

now again beneath the blanket
the couch beats with companion hearts,
but rhythmic differences unsheathe
the blade that sets them now apart.
my own is calm and winter-rested—
dormant long enough to balm
the burns that may have shown
in summer when my sleeves were short.
but hers, a rabbit seeking shelter:
panting breaths with tendons taut,
not certain that the safety lies
in abandoning back-shoulder glances
and springing full-speed through the brush.
nor do I know the option wiser
since hiding only lasts so long.
before the snows fall on the pyre,
she remains preoccupied by fire.