A history of unremarkable fires

His habit sprung from Siberia, I’m told,
inventing heat against hunger
ceasing only with my grandmother’s panic
at the sizzling mattress.

The other grandfather declaimed metaphorical,
warning of bridges aflame with the irreparable
and irreconcilable, whole texts of taunting,
years of anger’s hardened crust.

Still the wild world seeps through
even casements we thought closed
to the dark perfume, strange bottles
singing meaning into memory

when our guide, whose face now past the hour,
told of pine and eucalyptus
razed to hold back the inevitable,
named what we could not help swallowing.

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