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after the fire

she says things:
I was sure he was
right behind me.
And:
in two weeks, I lost
my dog my house my son my cat.

I listen.
We all do. Listen
to the sound of fresh grief
as it clears its throat
settles in for a long stay
the way some visitors,
long-winded or lonely,
stretch their legs and
nestle into the couch cushions.

What Kind Of Mother,
she says,
escapes a burning house
while her child
is inside?

The question forms itself from
smoke to solid.
I study it.
This gray, wrong,
unanswerable twist
of lies.
It has heft,
is heavy for a new born.

This is it.
All of us who love her
measure it from every angle
And we each take a deep breath
of the sooty air.
This is our opponent
our foe, forever
or
at least
as long as we both shall live.

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