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A House Ablaze

A HOUSE ABLAZE

Toledo, OH 2011

Inspired by Teilhard de Chardin and LifeLine Toledo

091913

 

I saw its devastating side:

The angrily licking flames, the

Billowing smoke pouring from

Pores no one knew existed.

The welcoming double-double doors

Showcasing through leaded glass

Tongues wagging with vibrancy and

Intensity, all consuming passion.

The attic louvers bellowing the

Black clouds of our household dreams.

 

I saw my daughter’s security

Disappearing with the smoke and

Collapsing to the grey pavement

Through yet another of my failed

Attempts to hold her up;

And I saw my son’s face

Shattered like a fallen chandelier

In the face and feeling of

Debilitating repeated disappointment,

Walking dazed in the dusky surreality.

 

Such overwhelming inferno may

To some suggest that destruction

Is the noteworthiest characteristic,

Red or blue the right and only colors

To convey the power of fire.

But through hazy falling night

A different image slowly emerged,

Extraordinary in its pure whiteness

And intensity not all-consuming,

rather, somehow, all-enfolding.

 

I saw them come down street and walk,

One by one like meandering sparks, or

Bundled together as tender kindling,

Ignited not by idle curiosity

Nor callous tourist instincts,

Barely noticing the center of attention

With all its chaos and grim knowing.

Instead, having eyes only for we

Who shivered in the cold of grieving, 

They gathered as both fuel and match.

 

I saw, at first, in flickering light

Comfort somehow spreading,

Flowing slowly, like lava across

The heaving hearts of our family,

Covering fear with love’s embrace.

I saw in both dark and daylight the

Magma collect in pools of every hue,

Almost blinding in its intense purity,

Compassion and authenticity,

A dazzling white-hot conflagration.

 

Untamed flaming fury did its worst

To our hearts and Victorian framework.

But rising through the heartbreak,

Rubble and ashes, something new

Was built – against all odds,

Though not with sweat or tools –

And it was untouchable, unshakeable.

The undoing of wood and nails enflamed

Reduced the seen to nothing, only

To reveal my dream – a house ablaze.