The box of fire-starters I had found in the back closet
seemed very simple in their use.
Simply turn the curved side down
and apply a flame.
We really wanted a fire.
Not only were we in need of that comforting presence,
but the spectacular show of trees and mountains
had disappeared with the sun
and the images of windy lake ripples, although profound,
seemed already years in the past.
We had the night to look forward to,
and our enthusiasm for the stars
would be exercised by our frequent excursions
to **** down some cigarettes out in the parking lot.
So it was decided,
this fire would be our inside entertainment for the evening.
The little black bic seemed a bit inadequate,
but the situation was soon remedied
by the discovery of a larger and quite adequate butane torch.
Now we are in business.
Despite the new firepower
only a small flame caught.
After spending a winter without heat,
in a home that hemorrhaged warmth,
I had become proficient in starting fires
with wet logs and numb fingers,
leaving me with a tendency to add too much fuel.
The little flame was adorable.
it wobbled back and forth on the flat side of the fire starter,
reaching up towards yesterday’s paper
and the cardboard case of Coors from last night.
I felt like a proud parent when it’s wispy tendrils
finally got a hold of the remnants of the pasts dubious reminders.
I’d spent my youth in that one room cabin.
Weekends I would roam the mountains
and dig deep holes in the snow to hide in.
Unfortunately, due to a small oversight,
I had never properly learned quite the trick
for opening up the flue.
I assumed, quite wrongly, that the wee bit of airflow from the fireplace
insinuated proper ventilation for the impending combustion.
A fire alarm
is one of the most panic inducing sounds.
We tried desperately to knock the flue open
praying that the growing fire would have room to escape
and save us from the dismal fate
of burning down my families favorite weekend getaway.
Mere moments after admiring the fragile
and fleeting existence of my little flame that could,
I drenched a towel in the sink
and smothered it out
before any more damage could be done
(which really only consisted of wet ash).
We spent the rest of the night smoking cigarettes,
getting high in the floodlights
and twitching with the panic induced paranoia
the aborted fire left in our chests.
And later, once I had gone back to the real world,
I learned that the flue lever had to move,
not left and right,
but up and down to open and close.