Look, somewhere in the thickets, a flame is kissing gasoline—
igniting atom after atom of viscous liquid, whispering smoke,
telling tales of burning to the enraptured briars. A flame is daring
the wind. The wind is redefining the flame. Look, rivulets of fire
are wreathed across the dew-drenched lilies, the flames are quenching
only the dew. The globules of moisture are retreating into the leaves—
the crackles of fireworks in the breeze announcing the era of burning.
Who are we to call for fire and not be consumed? Somewhere a lighter
is standing at ease on the end of a cigarette, an old rust-coated lung is
quaking behind the ribless cage of bones. A lone heart is palpitating.
If truly we’ve been through hell, then the fire made us black, charred
our erythrocytes to coal, gave us incense for offspring, and was too
unforgiving not to take them back so soon. Who are we to call for fire?
Mere mortals, born of dust, striking stone against stone to taste heat;
the warmth traversing aching bones, to inhabit veins and ventricles.
Look, the bush is burning and yet is not consumed. The birchwood
birthing ashes, pollinating the wind, poisoning the rust-coated lung.
The gasoline is kissing fire, the flames are retreating into the
lighter. The smoke is spiraling into the portals of breeze.
Who are we? That we give a name so boldly to this wonder—
this brightly burning kaleidoscope of ashen miracles.
Who knows what we were before we walked
barefooted through the coals of hell, and
the world gazed upon us in awe,
and called us: black.
[The line: who are we to call for fire and not be consumed?
Is a lyric from Ty Bello’s “Burning with the Holy Ghost”.]