Bramble, brush, branches and bark
wooden benches and school desks
dried leaves and folded cardboard
boxes, coffee containers
and worn and paint splattered clothes—
the pile is taller than our six-
foot holder of the matches.
Four stand by with water pails,
straw brooms and rakes to catch sparks
and flying ash—they are the
“sober drivers” while the rest
of us go wild throwing more
tinder on the fire—notebooks
and letters, receipts and bills.
So rare, this freedom to burn,
what with recycling and trash
pick-up replacing do-it
yourself chores, what with forest
fires and drought endangering
wild life and suburban homes.
One day is all we have. One
day to stand outside and whoop
it up until burnt out—both
people and fire reduced to
embers perfect for roasting
marshmallows held out like bait.
Sure, we have neighborhood pig
roasts and barbecues, clam bakes
and picnics—but this bonfire
is a step into wildness—
no houses on fire and no
animals injured. Pretend.
Our front sides sweating and our backs
chilled, we're reluctant to leave
so fish for old-time stories,
serve up memories, make notes
to call parents tomorrow,
listen to the final snaps
and crackles, then drift homeward.
Posted for my prompt
Copyright © 2014 S.L.Chast