On Botched Rescues

On Botched Rescues

Downtown, a nameless fireman in bronze rises
out of a marble plinth, a child clutched in his clobbered, burnished paws
just like an airline seat cushion braced for flotation.
Her cotton nightie and her flaxen tresses unsinged
but as black as fresh-bought charcoal under
the canopy of her apish savior’s rubber hat
hitched brow-low to empediment a stoic, dust-bowl face
that stares ahead in mulish flabbergast.

Of course, he doesn’t know yet
she is dead, already gone to embers in the conflagration
we don’t see, because that is not what is remembered,
storied night of witnessed uniform manifesting from smoke
leaden with something precious, carrying some tiny angel
from a certain death into one of a lesser certainty—
all anyone remembers are the rescues, threshold, the rare
coming out alive that gilts and smothers all the failures.

And on occasion, even those rescues were a half-truth.
And it is like that with most things,
the stories we retell that weren’t ours to begin with,
gifts thrown out, the promised time we finally set aside
when it’s too late, the love we try to drag out of the burning houses
that we are to one another, just like this fire fighter
carrying his hollow, heat-forged shell of girl
out of the monument we’ve made for him,
making a space to lay down
in the marbled mausoleum of our memory.


8/2013, Saint Louis


~ by jonlib on August 26, 2013.

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