Playing With Fire

There’s a backstory to this poem.  Don Graves (a leader in the teaching of writing) lived pretty close to me in Durham, NH. When he and his wife moved from their home in Durham Don offered me some firewood, and I was happy to take it. When I burned it in my wood stove I found it to be exceptionally dry. That firewood burned without any smoke, and I used that detail in this poem.

firewood cordPlaying With Fire

by Ralph Fletcher
from I Am Wings: Poems About Love

You said you
loved me
that afternoon
behind the woodpile
but when your father
collapsed at work
and died
without a hint
without a goodbye
your face turned
all blurry gray
and I knew enough
to stay away.

All winter your ma
burned the wood
he had stacked in
in the garage
to keep you warm
the wood so dry
it burned without smoke
until all the wood was gone.

You said you
loved me
but when
I saw your face
I understood
we were just
with that word. 

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