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Monday, May 13, 2013


by Darlene Pagan

Image credit: defokes / 123RF Stock Photo

She never imagined the sheet she lit
would curl him in its hot tongue, never
believed he wouldn’t wake in those flames,
throw back the covers, and wash his feet like
she’d been asking him every night before bed. 

The air buzzed with a lightning storm.
The chickens refused to lay and no matter
how long or hard she kneaded the dough,
all morning, the loaves cooked up
dense and hard as baseball bats. 
At least, no child again this month. 

A photo of them as newlyweds, so young
they look like children playing dress up,
hangs in the hallway.  Too stubborn to quit
a decade later and now look where it’s got them. 

Black petals fall.  Bits of sheet, newly caught
rise like cardinals.  A door opens, the wind
roars, timbers spit and splinter until she finds
herself outside in the grass watching

lightning split a sycamore.  She looks from
the tree to the body they’re pulling too late
from the burning house.  She believes it
when she tells them she has no idea who he is.

Darlene Pagan teaches at Pacific University in Oregon, where she lives with her husband and sons.  A book of poems, Blue Ghosts, was published with Finishing Line Press. Her poetry and essays have most recently appeared in journals such as Calyx, Hayden’s Ferry Review, The Madison Review, Poet Lore, Hiram Poetry Review, Hawaii Pacific Review, Memoir(and), Brevity, and Literal Latté, among others. Pagan recently completed a full-length poetry project tentatively titled, Setting the Fire. She loves to bike, hike, dig at the beach, walk in the rain, sing, and ride roller coasters now that her boys are just tall enough to ride.