Fire Forms (part 1)
My father had a way with fire:
the candle-flame cupped in his hands
as if he’d given birth to it.
It was a man thing, this
familiarity. My mother winced away.
He tamed it with a slow stroke
of his finger through the flame
which did him no harm; no, it curled
to his touch; it rubbed itself against him
till he licked his thumb and finger tip
and pinched its life out, gently, at the root.
This gift could be mine too, like a son’s
right… I just had to be sure –
hesitate, and you’re burned.
It looked like a chance not worth taking
and I didn’t… until thirty years later
with my son’s eyes watching me.
And it did hurt, and I didn’t say.
from The Egg of Zero (Bloodaxe, 2006), © Philip Gross 2006, used by permission of the author and the publisher.