Fall 2010 / Issues / Poetry 2010 / Volume 41

Arson — Julia Wendell

July light bums through its blue blanket

of sky. I spend the day plumping up the dog bed,

comforting Simon.

He pads from corner to corner,

and from time to time,

yelps out in excruciating pain

that bolts through his body.

Then I kneel down on the floor

and rub his long brown ears.

With ignorance comes terror

and a lost nick of time,

as if I’d opened the bam doors

to a flaming delta, swirling from the hayloft.

Flinging the stall doors open,

not a single trapped horse emerges

from the doomed comfort of their stalls.

All afternoon, I nap with Simon,

I eat with Simon,

I rub the raw ridges of spine

that have risen to the surface of his flinching back,

study the hollowing yellow flickers

in his imploring eyes.

I want to cover them. Instead,

I pat my knee, convince him to take a walk

out into the clear, smokeless air.

What have I gained by living

life, as if there were always something left to light?

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