“Torching the Playhouse” by Mark D. Hart

Mark D. Hart


Flames incinerate our years of studied play.
It had been an old pig barn, and we squealed
to have it as our own, mopped it out,
washed the windows, drug into it desks, chairs,
and a couch resembling Freud’s that now
lights into smoke and flame and
vanishes like a dream, unrecoverable by analysis.
Labs with colored chemicals whose rows of jars
beckon like crayons to idle minds exploring a
Middle Earth between innocence and adulthood
fall and shatter as tables and shelves give way beneath them.
Posters, calendars, remnants of the haunted house
for Halloween flower into flame, we watch them go,
watch flames lick the rough boards, hungry,
inside because we lit the match
until heat drives us out and we stand back
bright-eyed, flames crawling out the rafters,
running up the roof, leaping, roaring,
bestial, eating out the blackening core
more swiftly than we had guessed.
Arsonists of our childhood,
privy to the plans to burn it anyway,
we seize the chance to fire this final rocket,
to send something of our intensity skyward,
adrenal, no hope of recovery, we want to see
the deep death latent in all things, play with it,
welcome it, fill our ignorance of it,
let the structure collapse
and its matter and time implode into
the black holes of our eyes.

from Rattle #28, Winter 2007

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