by Scott Simpson
When Evan stood before fire he felt the shame of three generations.
There glowed his father’s shame- the grey hotness- like embers of a burnt-down house.
There danced his own shame- the gas-soaked burning of couches and curtains.
And there… there wafted the future shame that would cling to his young son, permeating all nearby good things like the befouling odor of burning-garbage smoke.
When Evan looked at fire he saw far too much red- anger from within was a fire that desperately needed out.
When Evan looked at fire re re-saw raw burning flesh that fried like common bacon with its fat feeding the larger flame ala candle wax, tossing out pennants of pure yellows and oranges.
When Evan got near fire he’d raise a shielding hand, warding off the implications fire imposed, protecting himself from its raw and puerile honesty.
Fire could destroy pain if it were hot enough.
Fire could act as an elemental cleanser.
Transmutation occurred by immersion in a great fire.
Fire was the final judgment.
An adolescent angry hand had lit the fire that burnt it all away and a repentant hand desired often to reach into the flames and pull out the father who once beat Evan so badly his bruises melded with old bruises until all history of every hand-strike became unreadable on the torso and face.
“You weren’t supposed to be home,” Evan chanted, cried.
If he could reach back into the flames…
The memory was hot enough to sizzle.