A poem in two parts.
I was born to this old and broken house
and now it sits, aflame,
and I weep.
we live in a mostly burning neighborhood;
we watch as we set our own fires;
we know we have been swimming in gasoline
since we moved in.
“why are you shocked?”
I see tenants flooding out
to other houses;
they pretend they do not live here,
that they weren’t there when we dropped the match,
that we were fine before the fire.
time is the only guarantee to its end.
and I weep.
there is a power from being scared,
unwelcome in your own home.
it hurt to find it.
and I promise
I will treat the burns and blisters and dry lungs;
I will help those engulfed by flame,
I will fight it for those whom it has trapped,
and me, too.
we are the only ones who can
keep ourselves from turning our home into ashes.
this fire may rage on, but
I will learn to breathe through smoke
and see between tongues of flame
and look for every fluff-filled crack in the walls,
the brittle stairs,
the leaking gas-pipes
even the soft spots where the foundation grew old,
and pull out my tools,
making each 2×4 a little more safe,
a little less flammable for next time,
knowing that I will probably run out of breath,
that my work may be burned down too,
but also maybe rebuilding is best when
you’re being torn down
by what you’re most afraid of.
if we want anything but ash,
we must fix this house
before it burns down
what was left of the neighborhood, too.
and when the fire is gone, thank time,
we will have new pipes, walls, and windows,
and mop up the gasoline oceans from our floors,
and open our doors.
but we cannot forget to keep working.
this old and broken house raised us
with a fighting foundation.
the fire is our creation.
it will only destroy us
only if we let it.