(a moment of silence)

With a soft whoosh the fireplace bursts to life.
The flames don’t evoke the reaction in me or in her
that we thought they might; the sight
of these flames feels entirely different
than the hopeless plight we felt
in the hellish firelight just a few nights ago.
No, this light is different; seen in a different light.

It’s funny that blue is “cool” and red “warm,”
because this gas fire in the living room
feels much warmer than the cold indifference
of Woolsey’s red flames on campus grounds.
The blue gas flames give to tips of golden light;
the wildfire’s red glow birthed plumes of black.

The fireplace slowly warms, and heat
bathes my forehead. Suddenly in my mind
I’m standing on the burned hillside
doing battle with hot smoke
that I pretend to understand.

I sit back, and the memories fade
with the heat on my forehead.
The flames burn on in their controlled pattern,
a destructive force domesticated for man’s will.

It’s almost time for dinner, so I stand,
and I flip the switch. A single flick
and the docile flames puff out.