living in a fireplace

saying, "this is not so bad,
this could be so much worse,"
when the man with grape fingers 
comes to deliver more wood.
hungry as our lives are. famished 
& in need of good dry timber.
my brother & i take turns breathing.
find a corner of the structure 
where air arrives as mice.
what i wouldn't give to be 
a campfire or at least a smoke house.
i remind myself i live inside 
a promised heat. tomorrow the wood floor
will blush because of us.
the forest outside is a machine
for the blaze. taking handfuls of ash
& blowing in each other's faces.
laughter crackles & pops.
i tell my brother he is brave
as his head catches fire again,
deforesting his skull. we are 
glossy & molten. i do not actually think
me or him are brave. i think we 
needed a place to live & i think
without the fireplace we would just
be rotten apples underneath 
the distractable moon. instead 
we have light. cut shadows in 
any backdrop. invent birds with
our skeleton fingers & send them
to eat everything red & alive.
at night when the fire wants
to be embers, the man comes
breathing on them until they catch again.
rest is a planet of fuel. the sun 
tucking strands of hair behind her ears.
my father is not the man but 
they look almost identical. 
i ask my brother if he thinks 
we'll ever leave & he shrugs to say,
"we are alive, aren't we?"
i am not sure we are but i love him
& so i lie to him. i say,
"yes, yes we are."

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