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  • Rena Shapiro

Hoping for Fire

It’s in my interest to become a hopeless romantic, but hopelessness was never an acquaintance.

He always lingered in the shadow of the sparks flying off the hearth, burning warmly from the inside out. He was the ember cooled to inky dust, slowly snowing on the dirt at my feet until I could no longer see solid ground.

He was more of a partner, a colleague. He got me where I needed to be. Each and every time, when the doubt set in. I can’t say he was ever unreliable. He clocked in at his designated times. He disappointed me regardless, since I am human.

In retrospect, for each fire I laid the driest logs I could find and the barest kindling available to me. It was all I could do. My time alive is just a walk through the woods, seeking occasional respite and making myself warmer. My camping grounds are mine to rest in.

Here and there, the woods offer other things. Rocks and poison ivy, birds and water. The shade of trees on a sunny day is sobriety after haze. We all do anything for a distraction — even look into the sun.

The fires are unique. I don’t know what they’re made of and I can’t explain them to you. Each one expires and I can feel it begin, when the embers glow a proud but tired red, rather than igniting.

In retrospect, I chose to ignore other factors. Negligence, wind, and rain. It was easier to consider the tongues. I mean, the tongues of flame, brilliant and scalding. Invigorating. Creating an addicting pain, when you get close to the inexplicable heat and can feel your breath swirl with the hot air, making your nose shake. When your body screams to back away but you’ve never felt so warm.

So you sit there. And let yourself feel it.

Only for a little while.

Please. Allow me to feel this.

Before the glow is the shade of regret. And before the ground is the shade of obsidian.


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