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Late April House Fire Along Interstate 81.

 We had wondered aloud for some time about its source, the smoke a
fixed roiling
 column visible for miles, unchanged by the wind that had all day blown
across the road
with pollen and bees a fine spring snow salting fields newly greening,
the redbuds
livid beneath it. By the time we came upon it, fire was integral, part
of the two-story,
wood-frame farm house--still itself, completely whole, composed: white
clapboard, porch and roof,
front door, window frames--glass panes intact-- the chimneys that would
survive, calm inside
the flames' straight rush--contained, bright-rising enravishment.
We knew this was nothing
like the worse resolve of another hour when the gravity of fire would
have succumbed
to the old habit of collapse, the sift of slow ash down on all that does
not burn--hinges,
latches, doorknobs, keys still sunk in the locks. Before night the wind
would return and with it
a roomy swarm of snow, pollen, soot that would pass through what
remained; windowless
and without walls, the air, uneasy, would settle into something almost
familiar, a dull
anguish not yet grief. And so we slowed but did not stop to watch
someone else's
tragedy burn past this brief, nearly beautiful suspension that changes
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Author:Andrews, Claudia Emerson
Publication:Prairie Schooner
Article Type:Poem
Date:Sep 22, 2010
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