Issue #8

Setting Fire

I'd notice first the amber balls of your heels
as you scrunched up old news
on bitter mornings,
planting gossip into the grate.

Criss-cross the kindling,
build up the foundations
then strike a light.
The Swan burns down too close
and you flap your fingers;
flecks of paper moths
spiral up the flue.
Scraps of tittle-tattle ash,
scattered over terraces.

A double page of yesterday's runners
draws the fire to a roar,
scorching winners and losers
to a late October leaf.
As flames take hold
shadows dance round the walls.

At nine and three quarters
I needed to escape this place,
but you always caught me
with a finger print smudge
of coal-dust
on the tip of my nose,
marking me for days to come.

Karl Riordan