fire escape plans for combustable boys

it used to feel inevitable.
smoke rising to the ceiling
& filling my bedroom. pressing a hand
to the door to feel its warmth.
we learned about fire like any other mammal.
where does it live? where does it eat?
how long is its wing span? the beer store 
on greenwich street burnt down
& left nothing but a blackened skull.
i lit small contained trials. a plundered
box of matches to ignite greeting cards,
scalding one corner at a time.
our house was only a block from 
the fire department so sirens were
our neighbors. the jingling rush
of engines in the night like 
bright belled horses. i needed a way
out my window just in case. years later
jumped & landed surprisingly unharmed
from the second story. i gave up my knees
for safety. you cannot hide from a fire.
in the town over two little boys
crouched in a closet & the fire
came to devour them, leaving nothing
but warmth in its wake. a fire should be
treated with intimacy. palm to
a door. smell of smoke. i even burnt
the edges of my hair &, sometimes,
just to prepare, pressed the head
of a match to my forearm. that bright pain.
like talking to the sun. all the hairs
on my body stood. yes, i was 
more prepared than most. secretly,
i wanted to see what the fire 
couold do to us. what it could take.
what it was willing to take. 
then, what would stare back at us.
charred skull. finger bones. ash. 

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