Burn

Before the end, when it was already over,
when our days together were as brittle
as dry, cracked leather
and nothing between us could bend,
and no matter how hard we listened,
we could not hear each other—
it was then—
I remember it precisely—
the last time I lusted for you.
Stark as a single poppy, its flame-kissed petals
declaring red
against a wide and uninhabitable field—
But I have gone ahead of myself.
 
The wildfires had receded to the horizon.
What was left was denuded land,
looking shamed like a shorn animal,
and singed. We were vulnerable.
Logs and stumps, still hot, seeped
acrid saps that fizzled and steamed.
Our steps took us nowhere, across
terrain without landmarks.
A snide reproach, the blue sky
gleamed over the wasted ground.
All around lay a great char
of regret, and honesty
had become a form of disorienting brutality.
 
Our talk was kindling too damp to light,
so we accepted the cold of silence.
But the silence was volatile, and it
came hurtling at us like sheet metal
in a terrific clamor. And we clung
to each other. And we fumbled
with matches. And our bodies in the bed
were like poorly played marionettes.
What was willed and what was unwilling
wrestled. Until we gave up.
It was a hopeless acquittal.
The night still came down on us like a sentence,
its black robes stern and eternal.
 
I remember. We were at the neighborhood park.
You took hold of the monkey bar and pulled
yourself up. And something leaned back
from the present and touched the past and
there you were as if at the beginning again.
The slant of an unseasonal sunlight
overtook every oak until the leaves
ignited crimson, and the evening pollen
was suspended in the air near you like stardust.
We spoke of ordinary things
and I looked inside myself with surprise
at the gathering lust.
When I told you, you said
 
it was too late.
It was then—I remember it precisely—
when I knew that the husk
of myself had finally come off.
Whatever was left of me
would have to grow as from a new seed.
I knew that inside of desire
lived need and that the fire we had made
had gone to the edge of the world and fallen
over. Without you,
I simply blew away. It is something I have seen:
a seed tumbling on the wind
across a burnt field.


Brook J. Sadler, PhD, has published poems with Ms. Magazine (online), Atlanta Review, Tampa Review, GW Review, The Cortland Review, McNeese Review, The Chariton Review, Calamaro Magazine, Parody Poetry, Mixitini Matrix, The Boiler Journal, Connotation Press, and other places. Her work has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize. She has participated in writers’ conferences at Sewanee, Breadloaf, the Palm Beach Poetry Festival, Sarah Lawrence, and the Vermont College of Fine Arts. She is a feminist, freethinking, vegetarian, poet and professor of philosophy, and a single mom.

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