among the wreckage

Sediments of dirt and ash dance together, intertwining with the knots in your hair as you pull yourself from the fire.  You are aware of the thickness in the air as it pierces your eyes, pierces your lungs. You use only your arms to pull yourself backwards. Legs unbending and helplessly dragged along. The heels of your shoes imprint upon the ground in parallel lines that will not cross as you continue to move forward. Technicalities will tell you you’re actually moving backwards, but you know you’re doing anything but. 

Once you believe you’ve created enough distance to warrant taking a rest, you do just that. You survey your forearms and lick the surface of your wounds: raw and tender and blackened. The skin is crisp against your dry tongue.

The light has not gone from your eyes as the flames parade on. Every so often you feel a crack of a flame flicked in your direction; it’s almost enough to make you want to curve your body towards the warmth. Your bones begin to ache, but in this patch of earth you’ve cultivated, you feel safe. As you scan the horizon, you see plots of land that have not yet been made fireproof by its inhabitants. Space amongst the burning has been home to you for quite some time, and as you see others create residency, you fear you will not be given the chance to reach the misled individuals before a fire melts away their exteriors slowly.

Now you watch one flimsy shelter after another crumble as fire weaves between these  shortcomings and laughs as home and earth embrace in destruction. This fire is bright: the luster scratching at your retinas. You close your eyes. Soon you fall asleep.

While you rest peacefully, my little corner of the world is on fire. But when I go to talk, to scream, to recognize the fiery warmth for what it is, I have trouble pushing past the black tar that spreads thick over my tongue — some sort of perverse chewing gum.

When I’m able to speak, all you can hear is that of a canary whistle.

This is not a story of a campfire paradise.


3 thoughts on “among the wreckage

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