Candle Poetry

Joyce Merritt

My neighbor is a poet.
As I twirl my pen on a piece of paper at my desk,
I hear someone outside
whistle
in praise of the candles
the poet keeps in the windows of his house.

He appears on his porch in the suede coat he bought
when a selection of his poems was chosen for the Norton Anthology.
My copy falls open to the spot,
the halves split on his lines.
He carries a flame in his eyes as he walks away.

I steal to his door.
The banister shrinks under my hand
as I follow the stairway to the highest candle
which glows across the blank page on his desk
and a book,
How to Write Poetry in Your Own Style.
I reach to open the cover
and the light darts from me.
The print hides in the shadow.
I growl.
As I lunge at his candle,
the back door rattles.
I run out the front,
clutching the candle,
and the air blows it out.

I rub my hands over it,
kneel by it,
chant,
"Fire, fire, rise again,
rise and burn when I count ten."
My rhyme shrivels.
In my window is a black wick.

 

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