Tuesday, 6 September 2016

Slow Burn

A poem in process . . .

You spent long enough
piling the brushwood into place,
getting it just right. You don’t need
too much oxygen in the early stages. Oh, there’s
no smoke without fire, maybe,
but since you didn’t want too much fire too soon,
for now there’s hardly a wisp of smoke.

Meanwhile, the sun continues to shine,
just another Monday, like all the others,
traffic queuing on the M6, children
climbing aboard a yellow bus, while in the park
ducks squabble over bread on the pond.

So, Monday morning: coming up to nine o’clock.
The accident at junction 12 has become a
traffic report, three miles of tailback; the
children climb down the steps, leave their bus
to chatter between the iron gates, new term,
same stories; and the ducks are dabbling elsewhere,
having abandoned the last few stale crusts
to their friends the fish.

And I am just heading home. It’s a nice morning.

Meanwhile, the brushwood smoulders gently,
and no-one notices, no-one yet can
even smell the smoke. But in any case,
this is a controlled fire,
not someone trying to set the world alight;
the rest of humanity can get on with their Monday.
This fire is set along my way home,
and you have set it so well: it is
carefully hidden, carefully aimed.

One minute everything was sunny,
and the world was candy-sweet;
the next, I am surrounded by flames
(out of nowhere, so why am I not surprised?)
and I seem to be catching fire so quickly -
though, truth to tell, you knew (I’m sure)

that I was already caught.

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