Remember that night when we tried to build a fire? We cursed the wind as our cigarette lighters sputtered and sparked.
Like we’d shamed our ancestors. Like we didn’t deserve the woods or the dark. We weren’t survivors; we were imposters.
I thought back to being five years old, when I loved the look of embers trapped inside a stick. I’d wave it around like a magic wand, and my brother wielded his like a flaming sword. We sat around that inferno, worshiping the heat, offering up laughter and chatter and burning marshmallow bits as sacrifices. Snowy sweets toasted on sticks, became glowing torches in the wilderness. We laughed through sticky mouths, crafting stories in the night.
That night I watched as you rubbed the logs dry with a cloth made from one of your dad’s old shirts. They'd burn better, you told me, less crackle, less smoke. Flash, flare – flame, licks of fire curl up and up, seeking, and are fed. The blaze is slow to start but finally it catches, then everything was thick with fire. The paper curled and ashed, the wood popped and snapped, catapulting glowing embers upwards past our faces.
I watch you tuning your strings in the warm light, vibrations of pleasure down each cherished fret. You strummed the songs of the hour, alternative dirges that set us apart, together. We wailed into the night with smoke in our eyes and sand in our sleeping bags.
The fire burned just for us, taking pieces of the darkness away one moment at a time. The whole world existed right there, around those flames. The waves crashed and smiles flashed in the fire lit glory. Just another...
you rubbed the logs dry with a cloth
made from one of your dad’s old shirts.
they'd burn better, you told me. less
crackle, less smoke.
we bunched newspaper under the logs
and i leaned...
My hands hover around the heated patterns of light
The wandering waves of flames dash toward the night's sky
Alive like spirits of another time