Mi casa es su casa
This piece was shown in Boston Sculptors’ “Breath & Matter” show in 2018, which paired sculptors and poets. “Mi Casa” was paired with Sophie Wadsworth’s “Burn Diary”.
mi case es su casa
7” x 24” x 10”, wood, plexiglas,
LED lights, 2018-02
The burn boss talks me into my gear
and straps a drip torch and silver shelter
like a pair of wings on my back—
Lead and let fire lead, he says,
Not too close, even your helmet
can ignite, even—
but already I’m missing words.
I test the wick,
rehearse the litany of hazards
and each step toward escape,
tell myself the story of the fire
before striking the match.
The crew questions the novice:
Who’s spinning weather
or licking finger to wind?
Who lays down flame,
and drags fire. Could you redraw the map?
Who blesses the loop that keeps fire
from going backwards into the fuel can?
Are you watching tinder or ember?
Will you keep an eye on the crowns for clean smoke?
Who blesses the cloth at our mouths?
Flowing from wounds, pitch catches fire.
I see sweet veins
and the heartwood, scrawled
with intricate hieroglyphs.
Little flaming thread, little wick:
with one cracking whoosh—
the branches ooze red oil
and heat sears right through my mask.
When fire escapes,
whoever you are
in this blood light—your house remains
the last before sky.
If you have to crawl into your foil shelter,
If you have a horse, this is the time
to use your rifle,
then slit the belly,
climb into the chewed grass inside,
close up the skin
for your very life.
Try to say the proper words.
Who am I now, in the night?
I set up a lantern ahead,
to avoid burning equipment in the dark.
Fire blinds me to sparks
thrown into air—
I’m walking downwind
looking for blown embers.
I know how to wait,
always to be in this cloud
in this darkness.