I was six when
the corner hardware store caught fire.
We were chased from our apartment
by smoke and heat
and the staccato pop of flammables bursting.
I remember the sudden burn
of winter and my mom’s blue lips,
as my dad, muttering and cursing,
tried to coax
the old Packard Eight to life.
The world outside
was ice and ash.
Sirens bawled and
yellow jacketed men
wielded axes like arms
and strained against hoses
struggling to break free.
Mom told me years later
that she had wrapped me in an old fur.
She said it was the coldest night
of the year and only the heat
from the car kept us from frostbite.
Try as I might
I can’t remember that.
I remember I shared the back seat
with my brother –
thirteen and the source of all knowledge –
and that he’d found a cigarette lighter that week
and showed me how to make a fire
of rags and paper,
and that his terrified face
flickered all night in the flamelight.
Steve Deutsch lives in State College, PA. His recent publications have or will appear in The Blue Nib, Thimble Magazine, The Muddy River Poetry Review, Ghost City Review, Borfski Press, Streetlight Press, Gravel, Literary Heist, Nixes Mate Review, Third Wednesday, Misfit Magazine, Word Fountain, Eclectica Magazine, The Drabble, and The Ekphrastic Review. In 2017, he was nominated for a Pushcart Prize. His Chapbook, “Perhaps You Can,” will be published next year by Kelsay Press.