Shut yourself in like a piece of steak,
lights out, shoulders hunched
to your ears, your body tenderized,
pounded flat by the fire’s enthusiastic fist.
Rest your charred back against furred peaches,
ask yourself, How did this get so out of hand?
If you’re like me, the closest you’ve been
to fire was when the alarm went off
in your apartment while frying salmon
without any windows open, the smoke rising
like dough, and what’s left to do but grab
a stepladder and knock the battery out its socket,
the salmon blackened and tough to chew.
Or maybe you’ve seen a construction site
in flames as you sat in the parking lot of a Toys ‘R’ Us,
the stringed construction lights shattering
the skeletons of apartments and posh stores slumping
into themselves like dislocated bones,
embers streaking across the freeway
onto another set of buildings. All you can think
about is the power you’ll never have—
just a little girl holding a stuffed cat
as violence, hot and intense, spins
around the rest of your life like the truth.
Everything’s soot out there and the refrigerator
is a better alternative, sealing you in
like a letter, like something personal. The kale
and broccoli nestled on shelves palm
their cool green leaves to your cheeks,
seem to say exactly what you’re feeling:
Maybe no one will think to open the door, maybe
you won’t need to get out.