nthposition online magazine

Fire burst through the ceiling

by Jane Holland

[ poetry - may 08 ]

In 1940, fire burst through the ceiling
at Thurstons

makers of elegant billiard tables
since 1799

and played nursery canons
with fireballs.

It raced apocalyptic engines
through Kensington

annihilating plate glass
like shook sparks from a forge

laying hot white wreaths
of aftermath

on the extinction of houses
the shifting rubble of lives.

After fire had stripped
all the charred flesh it could find

from the bones of that city
the burning spit of that city

it departed again with a ghost blast
on its trumpet.

Later, fear crept out blinking
from its shelter

to stare at the erased streets
the obliteration of sense

making small noises of wonderment
at each house spared

the delightful unhoped-for
omission.