This week in the PEN Poetry Series, PEN America features a poem by Molly Brodak.
The fire itself has no scent.
A little fire in the street
is no particular person’s baby. The walk home
now is always amid crashes
and incidents. The rain is intermittent.
It is not the fire itself you smell in your wool coat.
The fire itself is no body,
no site for war.
The gall, the dread,
I can’t see it in the street,
in the waiting lines,
in the stairwell
of my complex.
Only the rat’s head is left in the trap.
Each lamp spreads a skirt of light,
Some have no lamp.
A pest, a homeless shred
of cells and bones begs and moves
his candle to the darkest sleepers,
so low, almost not, but singing,
and up here I cannot blink the fire out of my eyes,
I mean not the glittering fire itself,
not the fire but its burned things, and I can’t hear
his song but I see his candle moving through the dark.
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