It wasn’t the splinters
plucking fabric in the crook of my arm
that made me hate collecting kindling.
It was becoming Pavlov’s dog — the anticipation
of wadding newspapers,
of opening the damper
Fire was our family
attempt to moth ourselves together.
Mom, cross stitching in her own circle of light.
Dad, orbiting with a cigarette, already
glowing red. All of us
passing by the blaze
before moving away
as another made their approach.
I would sit on my hands, squeeze my eyes
and count to three. Tap out three with my toe,
and repeat it all again. Seized
by the urge to throw
my teddy bear
into the fire,
to grab the poker and roll a log
across the hearth, and onto the carpet. Those nights,
I’d go to bed as the flames died, clenching the blankets
in my fists while people slept —
while embers glowed
in an empty room.
Lorrie Ness is a poet writing in a rural corner of Virginia. When she’s not writing, she can be found stomping through the woods, watching birds and playing in the dirt. Her work can be found in numerous journals, including THRUSH, Palette Poetry and Sky Island Journal. She was nominated for a Pushcart Prize in 2021 and her chapbook, “Anatomy of a Wound” was published by Flowstone Press in July of 2021.