August 25, 2020

A Poem for the Women who Don’t Run Away from Fire.

It wouldn’t be like me to look away,

So I walked right up to the smokey door and put my
Hand right up to the handle.
And then I waited.

This is like me—waiting and staying.

And then I hear something behind another door.
I listen with my ear to the door and wait for instruction, but it never comes.

The smoke is billowing out of the first door now as I walk up to it.
I start coughing and cover my mouth.

What did I think I would do now?
What would help this situation?

Did I think I could put the fire out with my presence?
Did I think I would find someone to save?

It is only me here.
Me, the fire, and these doors.

Each one is burning with a different level of intensity, just a few feet away.
I hear something else—
The street.

The street is out there too.
The street calls but makes no direct reference to my name.

It merely calls and calls like a child learning to speak but without any vocabulary.
There is no answer there.

There is no sureness to this idea,
But the sureness of the fire is also getting less desirable the longer I wait here.

My eyes are burning; I’m coughing and sweating,
Leaning on the floor with one hand to stay up.

The street calls again; it’s a loud generic yell that feels
Like swimming in the ocean on a day when the sun never fully came out.

A flame suddenly eats through the door, and,
Without thinking at all, I jump out of the way
And into the street.

I’m lying there looking at the building when someone runs up
To pull me farther away.

I can finally really see the fire.

From the street, it’s blazing and beautiful,
But it’s also destructive, aggressive, and temporary.

Speeding around the corner, three fire trucks
Immediately pull out their hoses and battle the beast.

And from red to black, before my eyes, it changes.

From present to past,
From blood to ash,
The street had called.

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Raven Hughes  |  Contribution: 2,420

author: Raven Hughes

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