Maria's Journal entry #174
Volume 7

The Fire

even at this distance
she could barely tolerate the heat from the south wing of the house
as flames swallowed the first floor

then hungrily licked their way up
seeking more to devour

out of this apocalypse
he stumbled through the great doors
like prey escaping the jaws of a wood demon

his black trousers and morning coat were gray with ash
his frame shook violently with each gasping cough
she wondered whether it was condensed winter air
or inhaled then exhaled smoke
rising up from his chapped lips

watching from the greenhouse
she could still hear the whisper
of the lepidopterans and magnoliophytes
beneath the growing roar of the fire

she recalled the many cycles of life witnessed here
how many generations of moths and silkworms she nurtured to maturity
forgetting the nature of fire
her mind drifted again to the words of her mentor
her creator
her namer

the passage on the behavior of caterpillars:
when interrupted in their instinctual construction of a hammock
and placed in one more complete than their own
they nonetheless continue building
from the earlier stage in which they had been interrupted
rather than complete the work
from the place where they now dwell

Origen of Species 55:4
instinct is a mental action performed without experience
performed by many individuals in the same way
without their knowing for what purpose it is performed
father slowly raised the pistol
as if the gesture had meaning
when the mob would bring their own firearms
to do to him what he was hesitant to do to himself
Papa turned his back to the road stretching down the hill
winding its way to the town in the valley below
he fell to his knees
with the approaching torches and shouts in the distance behind and below
moved the muzzle from his temple to his mouth
his face tilted skyward
the arm fell
his hand dropped the pistol
the body swayed
blood surged
down the chin
down the beard

the dark stain spread across his chest
washed away the ash, the soot,
his body lost balance
heaved once more then pitched forward
crumbled and folded into itself like a sinking vessel

I ran through the foxglove behind the house
clutching an armful of hastily gathered papers
the inferno cast deep shadows
my dark silhouette stretching
like a long, narrow grave inviting me to fall
into the dancing darkness