Today's poem is by Sarah Hannah

At Last, Fire Seen As a Psychotic Break

It begins in the crux of beam and insulation,
Behind the sepia portraits of ancestors
On the bedroom wall. A wire burns through
Its cloth sleeve, overwhelmed
By demands of modern current.

It splits into two antennae,
Two probes in close space.
A spark shoots and sows in a post,
Then it starts to race—
Hungry, reckless,

Through the dry skeleton of the house.
Go to the wall. Can you see it?
Every episode is different.
Will it burn a seam or hole
To reach the open air?

You have to evacuate the family, but no one
Wants to go. And when they are dead,
And you are contemplating
The sticks, the wheezing ashes,
The iron pots melted to pools on the lawn,

The authorities will say it was structural.
Now that you think of it,
There were warning signs, gestures:
A flaming toaster,
A persistent aggressiveness.

On the littered ground in hindsight
You devise solutions.
What if you’d paid it more attention,
Sworn off sleep, made tea—
Could you have quelled it?

What if you’d stood nightly by the wall,
Felt around for the heat,
Drawn a cold, wet cloth across the surface,
And, speaking soft words,
Held it?

Copyright © 2006 Sarah Hannah All rights reserved
from The National Poetry Review
Reprinted by Verse Daily® with permission

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