“Fire” by C. Kubasta

Someone will teach you how to spark a lighter, how to turn up the flame, how to remove the child-proofing that supposedly deters anyone young as you, your tender fingers, from making & catching fire.

Someone will teach you to love the smell of matches, the acrid draw & scratch, the splinter of wood; how to use the broken busted ones for kindling, how to grow the flames.

At some friends-of-your-parents’ house, you’ll see their fancy long-handled matches, saved for symbolic lighting of festive fires, and learn another kind of desire.

Under pines, you’ll learn about tamping down, about the smell & smoke of wet wood & ash. How water changes the chemical properties, and if you put your fingers into the still warm pile of whitened not-burning, it’ll become grease on fingers, made for marking. It won’t wash off easily – it’ll stain skin & others.

Maybe someone taught you to pluck your hair and hold it over fire, watch the snap & warp. The curl & fizzle. The singe & dust it becomes. The smell like skin too long attended to.

Someone will teach you how to light the stove, to love the peculiar smell of the particular additive added to gas to warn of leaks. You’ll learn to let the gas billow before pushing the spark, to watch the fire catch & roil before burning off all lingering escaped danger. Maybe he’ll teach you how to fix the pilot light, maybe he’ll teach you how to.


C. Kubasta writes poetry, prose & hybrid forms. Her favorite rejection (so far) noted that one editor loved her work, and the other hated it.  She is the author of two poetry chapbooks, the full-length collections, All Beautiful & Useless (BlazeVOX) and Of Covenants (Whitepoint Press), and the novella Girling (Brain Mill Press). Her novel This Business of the Flesh is newly out from Apprentice House. She teaches literature, writing & cultural studies, is active with the Wisconsin Fellowship of Poets, and works with Brain Mill Press. Find her at ckubasta.com. Follow her @CKubastathePoet.

Photo by Joshua Newton.