But the flame beckoned, elegant
and warm, lavender halo glowing
softly at the center—not unlike
the ripe cluster of bruises gracing
my thigh after I tripped on our back
deck, slick with rot, wearily begging for
years to be fixed, dutifully neglected.
If it’s not growing, it’s dying, he said.
What we needed: light, space,
patience. What we got: the dark
cramped quarters of trauma and
grief and an illness with no cure.
Quarrels grew like wild briars,
rash words flung like sword thrusts,
rare snippets of silence a mercy.
The root of the righteous will never
be moved, he said. But the drift from
tenacious to tenuous is slow and
smooth, unheeded when scattered
across days and weeks and
months and years—not unlike
the steady slimming of our baby
girl’s belly. From doughy orb to
slender core, thinning out one cell,
one hour, one minutes, one
hundredth of a second at a time.
But the flame—the flame razes in an
instant. Thick brown trunk reduced to a
whisper, papered and grey, wholly
undone by the slightest shiver of wind.
No promise of a phoenix to be found.
I’ll be right here in the ash heap,
pondering how something
so beautiful and bright could bring
so much eventual darkness.
Cover image by Yaoqi LAI