22 January 2007 | Vol. 6, No. 4
Charred Face of the Gone
This the progression of prairie fire follows
the plot structure set to motion by an organism
long ago—first earth, then wind, and fire
followed by the resolution of rain we still
wait for as the dust picks up and carries
the lasting soot of a double-wide
on its rolling face. When the water stops
coming the buckets stop meaning anything
other than one component of a system
of archaeological tools once used to wash
off the back porch now settling into its role
as stone. I've got the end of the world
written all over my face. And if you don't
see this read between the lines of revelations,
at the white space that calls out every meaning
that never was but maybe someday will be.
Three in the morning and the howling
at the back door will find you under your covers.
When you stop believing in the sanctity
of the signifier, you will find no more comfort
in the white folds of your comforter.
I meant to talk about fire but cannot
stop thinking about rain, and dulce et decorum est,
which I think has nothing to do with this
except that resolution has hidden within it
something sweet and right, something
I never gave a damn about until some cigarette
butt on the side of the road went from lung
to lost to a leeway of motion with the wind
that drives you mad or drives you out
of house and home, if you're one of those people
who find a difference between the two.
A collection of heat is an opportunity waiting
to happen. In this way all collections
are the same. You can have a gathering
of people or teeth in a mason jar. Once placed
beside the promise of fire, the chatter will turn
to rattle will turn to anger and then engage
hands and mouths and nails before looking
at some project torn asunder and letting go.
About the author:
Clay Matthews's work is published (or will be) in Black Warrior Review, Gulf Coast, LIT, Backwards City Review, CrossConnect, Coconut, H_NGM_N, New Orleans Review, and elsewhere. His chapbook, Muffler, is recently out from H_NGM_N B_ _KS.
For further reading:
See the complete list of work by Clay Matthews at 42opus. Browse the contents of 42opus Vol. 6, No. 4, where "Charred Face of the Gone" ran on January 22, 2007. List other work with these same labels: poetry.