On New Year’s Eve you can go anywhere in the city, outside the city, and see a massive bonfire. Every town has one. People bring their old wooden chairs, newspaper and letters, old receipts taking up space in old drawers, old drawers. It all finds its end in the sky, lifted from solid vessel to the charcoal cloud– at once tree, homo erectus, seagull. Tchotchkes and ephemera leave their names, and we all marvel at the space they’ve found.
The house caught fire some time right before midnight, not officially celebratory, in or out of the city. The grass by the barn lit like matches, the light travelling down the brown strands now glowing gold, ending the fiery phrase with a black period. Each patch of overgrown meadow unleashing a mouthful of mad poetry… and all the grass burned down like this, choral and intentional. I pointed up to the house, to show where fire goes, and the grass showed me my error, quivering down in comet energy into itself in lightning flush-and-crumble. The great glow passed through the mirror into the kingdom of dark water creatures, warming the pearly bellies of fish, giving rooted pebbles planetary vigor. And time-slowed seagrasses swayed all the same under the strange but unimportant bright rectangle growing on their ceiling.
By midnight the blue roof was red and the face of the nearby church blushed and glowed and surely it was a sad sight for it. The stones of the church enceinte are not so reflective and so the burning just meant another end; God and godless gardens, surrounded by stone all the same; hell and house on fire.
I stood in my boots in the snow and watched as the one-hundred-year-old house turned itself inside out with red and sparkling ecstasy. Maybe a sketch book or two lost, but the poetry could be written again; an idea is fireproof, a good one at least. The house was learning to unbuild handsfree, leaning towards its reflection in the sea. It spun and spitted and returned to the units of its whole, reversed and returned. Not so much speaking in stanzas or lines like the grass, but in some massive oracular mouthful, bigger and older than any language I know.
I wanted to stay, to throw my clothes in the fire, to dip my head into the flames and burn up my body like grass. But the wind was blowing the fire out now, and my mother and father were already in the car, beckoning me with fire-flushed faces. Familiar voices frayed this veil of smoke and I walked to the car to fireworks, champagne hands, pointed party hats, and music. We still belong to bodies and pass through many gardens here, green grasses bowing to bare ankles, us bowing to tides of tritenesses, and listening to voices set in flesh, not fire. The house exploded out of its being into end-of-year darkness, resigned to the past where all things becoming their nothing resign. I wanted to stay, but we were going to a New Year’s party and they were waiting.