Fire Forms

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.

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