Standing in the Burnt
In the burnt-out skeleton of a house, talk of smoke, noise, blown to the ground by wind in the street, screams of horses, the soul imprinted pictures it wished were unseen, black smoke from melting water tanks, mouths gasping for air, water sucked from eyes, bad with the good, two-dimensional turned over and over in the hand, fast enough and see the back of a lounge room fireplace, logs thrown on, searching for shapes and creatures in the flames, in a pile on the carpet grated candle wax melted with matches, another picture Nanna’s kitchen stove a magnet, blue flames licked around pots and pans, flames spread up the walls, ate the ceiling, threw petrol into the flames, Napalm! the shortest distance between two points was a straight line, the front and back of the pictures cried Beware! Beware! Flashing lights, nothing to see here, nothing to see here, only a woman looking for the shortest distance to a Polaroid image first surfaced into focus then faded in the sun on the back seat of a car, discarded when she closed her eyes, when light at the end of a tunnel was an approaching train, all who have heard, all who have seen her weave over the tracks, she tripped, she bled on stones, felt the train so close, so windy, one blue eye of Casey Jones the engine driver swiveled in his head and he took off his cap and wiped his face, floating hair flattened by honeydew and in her hand a Polaroid, white now, the images untouchable, unattainable, she couldn’t put her finger through the tunnel of the ego, couldn’t see Evil Knievel jump over the canyon, villains prime TV explosions, factories, wooden horses, firemen feet apart hoses pointed at flames, roof crumpled in on itself as fire erupted through broken windows, people wrapped in foil shivered in the street.
She rejects the label ‘sane’, takes a photo of ‘sane’ and let it fade, turns it over and over in her hand, looking for the back of her head, looking for a piece of string to attach the image to her face, a mask with no eye holes, the soul searching for things it wishes for but never sees, she closes her eyes with holy dread and steps into the shortest distance.
Linda is an Emerging poet who participated in Red Room Poetry's MAD Poetry Illawarra workshops in 2020