What Surprises You About the Fire 
at the House Next Door

Is not the waking at 4 a.m. One expects, perhaps,
that with a fire comes a waking.

Portable floodlights on all sides
make the night unbearably bright

and in the shock of brilliance
your other neighbor’s place becomes
a white dollhouse set down in the wrong flick
(this one must be sci-fi).

It is not how they show it in the cartoons.

You see no flames,
only think you might choke
if you stand out back
and watch the smoke roll across your yard.

The sound of many chainsaws.

But that, somehow, you can’t hear water in the rain.

Come morning,
the house is still standing
a tired yellow, as always. It looks from the front
as if nothing happened.
Twin signs—printed on neon green—
are taped to the dark glass of the storm door.

Lying at odd angles on the walk,
there must be thirty plastic water bottles,


— L.L. Barkat, author of Love, Etc.

This poem is offered as part of our December theme: House & Home

T. S. Poetry

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