Fires That Burn, Fires That Do Not Burn

by a contributor

Jeff Burt


I was thinking of love and she and I were lying in a hollow on a hill listening to a man with a face worn like rock who lit a fire near a cliff, and squatted in khaki with a pipe out of pocket,
whose face was lit by fire, who retold the story of the Gemini twins as ashes rose to the heavens.
I was thinking of heavens, of her and her hand in mine, was thinking of ash in the air when the man said the tales are old but not forgotten and I was thinking of men who kept beasts away by fire.
I was thinking of fire, of men who looked for fire to keep an inner beast at bay, who sought gods and kept lights in the night, who told tales as this man told tales of a crippled god, of Helen and of Paris, of Dido and Aeneid, of man as woman’s immolation, woman as man’s Pyrrhic death, of the dangers of a single kiss.
I was thinking of a single kiss and saw the wood reduced to ash and ember and thought of going back by stepping forward for I had grown tired of old tongues and the telling of old tales
as he the dark-faced man, man only, fell silent, man only, as big as body and tongue.
I was thinking of tongue as I turned to see her eyes in the dark, and in the dark they were not foreign and I was thinking that we must live in our own light, that we must be our own Prometheus, that what we see and that we see must set our world on fire.
I was thinking of fire, of love, and thought this must be love: I can reach in her fire and not get burned.

Jeff Burt lives in Santa Cruz County, California. He has published works in Thrice Fiction, Storm Cellar, Star 82 Review, and soon in The Cortland Review. He won the SuRaa short fiction award in 2011.

See Jeff’s list of 5 Things in our ongoing contributor series tomorrow.