“Fire!” Daddy called to the pre-dawn darkness
pointing his glove south t’ward the Jackson place.
I dropped my feed bucket to rush with him.

Like yard gnomes they stood barefoot in the snow
watching flames devour the old farm house roof.
Our truck slid to a stall on iced gravel

and we pushed past the nightgowned clan to brave
the hell. I hurled drawers of clothes and bedding

Volunteer firemen arrived in time to
douse the rock foundation, then spit and scratch.
Dead-eyed statues stared where the house had been.

A rust-bucket braked with a squeal out front
honking for the strangers to leap inside.
Black exhaust stained the snow where they had been.

Guilt-heavy for our blessings we rode home
haunted by this girl and offspring who seemed
stunned but not shocked by their smoldering loss.

Then Daddy’s voice stabbed the silence with,
“That’s the warmest that old house ever was.”