Kathleen Hellen

You put your back to it. The thwack of metal ringing

in the clear September air against the thrumming of mosquitoes.

The blade so dull, you had to straddle like a horse the logs we gathered,

find exactly the right angle. I put the sticks in a ring under the rusted grill,

the starter in the center, the larger pieces stacked on either side to make a kind

of limit. I watched the smolder, the thinnest as they kindled after

rains had dampened purpose. Throughout the night we talked.

I listened to your reasons. You wanted conflagration. Heat that burns.

I wished a slow fire lasting long into the night. The spirit in the smoke.

Nothing left but ashes in the morning.

Kathleen Hellen: "My work has appeared in Barrow Street; Cimarron Review; The Cortland Review; the Hollins Critic; Nimrod; Prairie Schooner; Salamander; Southern Poetry Review; Subtropics; Witness; among others. Poems are forthcoming in the James Dickey Review, the Dos Passos Review and Harpur Palate. Awards include the Washington Square Review, James Still and Thomas Merton poetry prizes, as well as individual artist grants from the state of Maryland and the city of Baltimore. Forthcoming from Finishing Line Press is my chapbook The Girl Who Loved Mothra. I am a contributing editor for the Baltimore Review."

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