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Fall 2015

What to Save from the Fire

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Grandma offed herself years ago
so that just leaves the Picasso
but it turns out to be a pencil drawing
you made at six, triangle of a sail,
one duck on a squiggle of water.
Up go the curtains in a bright rush.
You’d definitely save your daughter
and take her place on the pyre,
but she moved to a faraway island
after launching a few thousand ships.
Once you left a throw rug
on a floor heater to keep the darts
you were throwing from falling in
and woke to a room made of smoke,
but all that burned was the rug so
it didn’t count, the way nothing counted
back then, you and your friends
carrying blankets and pillows outside to sleep
and opening all the windows. Fire is fed
by air, a slim lick of flame expanding
like most people in middle age.
What about your journals—
pages of proof you never changed
no matter what the mirror tells you.
Years from now someone might lick
the ink and taste snow, cheap wine,
the grilled cheeses you ate with your mother
at the Woolworth’s counter.
Then again, look at those rosettes of self-pity
adorning the cake of your depression:
let the journals burn. Meanwhile
better wet a towel and hold it to your face.
Who’s coming for you? Hopefully large men
in helmets and boots, and not a few students
exhuming a metaphor. Stay calm.
Throw darts. Some look like cruise missiles,
some like honeybees.



—Kim Addonizio



Kim Addonizio's new book of poems, Mortal Trash, and a memoir, Bukowski in a Sundress, are forthcoming.

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