Fire Houses (poem)
If forced to choose a favorite short poem of mine, one that brings together nearly everything I’m interested in, it would have to be this one:
All the old stories have their fire houses:
hostels, banqueting halls, stopping places,
some leading to the Otherworld,
some made of iron, and all of them
set afire, mansions made into ovens,
severed heads begging a drink of water.
I thought I saw this, driving home at dusk:
there was an old house set back off the road
and surrounded by the summer night’s heat,
but what I took for flames was a thicket
backlit by mere electric light sprawling
from the TV, the kitchen, the bedrooms.
We do not know the note of invasion,
we don’t believe in any Otherworld.
Where is there any great liminal space,
some resting place found on the borderland
where we might meet with every difference,
with true refreshment, or awful violence?