photo of fire wisp

The Fire I Wanted by Jane Rosenberg LaForge

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When the smoke gets here
I’ll measure it for content,
the house I grew up in,
toys I once owned,
a basket of hooves and human
legs, trunks of young doll
cousins, lifted and separated
like they said in the commercial
to their most dramatic advantage
like how I’d be, when I was older.

It takes 25,400 microns to fill
an inch and that’s important;
the bigger they are the better
for the lungs. Though experts
say we’ll be protected, by
distance and currents; it’s
come before, in the autumn,
when the hypodermics landed
on the shore. Just before
the sewage and sea mammals;
I learned the word “necropsy.”
My boss wouldn’t allow
me to use it because we’d hit
The jackpot, which always
comes after the boon, the blip
accountants discover in
retrospect, like sparks plastic
might make rather than smolder
in place. That beach was a mistake

only I could make, on my own.
I had to adjust to its mists
and fibers, what ruins its directions,
reverse for west, north is a
construct but also magnetic:
Just how is that possible?
Better minds than mine of course.
Perhaps the dawn will be affected
rather than the sunsets, as in
the winter I came home from too many
time zones and slept afternoons
as if I were a ghost, waiting
for my motive. Waiting
as my mother must be,
my father and sister
to be transported
in vapors and droplets
from the sea water
that welcomed them,
now put to work
segregating smoke
from flame.

Jane Rosenberg LaForge is a poet, novelist, and memoirist living in New York. Her 2018 novel, The Hawkman: A Fairy Tale of the Great War (Amberjack Publishing) was a finalist in the annual Eric Hoffer awards in two categories. Her 2014 memoir is An Unsuitable Princess (Jaded Ibis Press). She has published four chapbooks of poetry and two full-length collections. A third full-length collection, Medusa’s Daughter, will be released in 2021 by Animal Heart Press.

Lead image: “Fire whisp” (via Flickr user Simon Forbes)