Day 839, October 19, 2022
Building a Fire
Building a fire you learn from your mistakes,
you do not disparage the newspaper for not igniting the kindling,
you do not bad mouth the kindling for not catching the log.
You feel the cold on your fingers and toes,
on the face underneath the eyes
and across the bridge of your nose.
Sometimes it takes a second try,
and there is the patience of not closing the damper too early,
of not poking and shaping the embers before you have to,
of waiting for there to be love before weighing it with new logs
still damp from last night’s rain.
Today was beautiful, somebody says.
You tried to sit outside and eat your sandwich,
but it was so cold your eyes started to water
and it looked like you were crying.
A woman was sitting on the wall smoking a cigarette
and staring at the busses.
You wanted to lean over and whisper something encouraging,
but you didn’t,
and you walked away coughing conspiratorially.
There are no secrets in an office where the walls don’t touch the ceiling.
Before there are embers,
a fire is just an infatuation.
You get dressed in the dark,
sometimes you make a fire in the dark,
the only light dancing on your skin like the nervous voice of a lover.
You get dressed in the spare bedroom
because that is where you keep your shirts.
You sometimes hear faint music or voices
and you stop knotting your tie
and stare into the half drawn window blinds.
It is a little too early.
It is a little too late.