The neighbors barbecue, burn waste,
worship smoke, smoke weed when they can
afford to. They all breathe deep the accessible
air, talk of fires they have seen: a burning
car at the interstate’s edge, pastures that go up
fanned by August winds, wildfires crowding
woods. One night, their house flared just like
a dream, three a.m. and silent, lighting
the night like we’d never seen, till the roof just
swelled and caved in on itself. Sirens cut
night to shreds. The woman started to scream.
Her husband steered her across the street,
slapped her the once to settle her down. No one
said the word arson then, but somebody
loved the burn too much. Giggled. Dropped a
gas can in the ditch. The news didn’t say
much about it, just noted the family needed help,
would be glad for whatever folks could give.
The next night they grilled on the smoking slab,
bunked the kids in a tent. Marshmallows.
Hot dogs.Nothing strange. A charcoal smell like
camping out. Then everything faded away.