The Weight of a Body on Fire


Someone swept eyelashes into piles, pilfered wish-
bones from the dustbin.

Careful as rain that wept through the sash,
bone-damp. Drear of metal,

sky like a gun-belt, polish-worn,
has the gift: lightening.

God’s arrow knows where to strike.



Before ground breaks; basalt, limestone.
The shift of plates is aqueous,

earth’s tone tidal, billowing. Patience
as petrifaction. Fruit as stone.

Confluence of soil, sediment, silt.
Where they meet is liquid.

Horizon, shadow, a body in silhouette.



Without milemarkers,
is there anywhere to go? Momentum,

a series of blisters on finger tips,
a red face, spider on the wall.

The crawling on skin, flame on wick.
Ounce after ounce of burning.

Want, flint in mouth.



Remember how it was done. Distance,
the smallness of frame.

What was it like falling; bent
yet impenetrable, catching on

the rockface, soot in eyes — falling.
How muffled , how noiselessly




Retreat. Insects against the windshield,
it’s dark, getting darker.

Incongruent air, blue flash shudders the steeple,
window-glass cracks,

sidewalks bulge, buckle — heat heavy, splits
the surface. Skin taut, a punch

the body braces.



Slick palms, nervous. The unflagging
thought, every minute full

of want, cells admonish cells. Water
pearls forehead to temple —

melting in the act. Febrile hide,
marrow in cinders. Fits, spells,

wind dancing with ash.

Melissa Severin (© 2007)