blackbirdonline journalFall 2009  Vol. 8  No. 2
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Mother’s Home Ritual for Quenching Fires

Unwind your garden hose       Lady bird, lady bird
           lay it across the insatiable lawn
                      do not turn it on

Drink wine from a jar
          shake the dregs
                      into your palm
                                                fly away home

Bathe in a tub without water
          walk into the kitchen with your eyes closed
                      stare at the horizon
                                                your house is on fire

Build towers of ash on the walk
          the vacant swings
                       the back seat of your car
                                                your children are gone

Borrow sugar from a neighbor
          let it melt in the driveway
                      give away your matches
                                                all except one

Write the fire on your laundry list
           set it aflame
                      watch the name curl into ash
                                                and that's Little Anne

Dine with firefighters
           wear a sundress with nothing underneath
                      say a prayer to St. Barbara
                                                for she has crept under the warming pan

Steady your hand above a basin of water        Lady bird, lady bird
          pretend to read your fortune there        
                      pretend you are not thirsty.  end

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