Household Fires

I’m still thinking about what I was thinking about
yesterday. So what am I to do
with all this new thinking? There are several people
I could call. “It’s about plants,” I could say. There are various
kinds of plants I want to talk about. And then, oh yes,
furthermore, as I was saying yesterday. But then there’s this
small fire in the kitchen. It’s the trashcan where I put the ashes
from the fireplace. I guess a little stirring up
was just what they needed for a flaming
comeback. Crisis averted, and a line of ashes across the kitchen,
through the garage, to a new wet heap in the driveway.
Now the place smells carcinogenic, and what was I saying
again? What was so important about yesterday
that I’d want to stay there? Yes, that’s what I was saying.
That’s it exactly. Time itself is enchanted
and doesn’t know where it’s going next. Right away
you’re in the swing of things. Exotic aromatics
waft you along in a wash of color and light. Just let it
happen, the weather says. I called Robin—or rather I’m trying
to call Robin—to tell her to buy a new trashcan
for the kitchen. And through this all Neil Young
and Crazy Horse are playing “Cortez the Killer,” with it’s
beautiful swells and iffy historical accuracy. It goes on
for seventeen minutes, this version. All the things
seventeen minutes can swallow, busy in the changes. The
household fires, exordium and terminus. Because angels
are not everywhere, or else angels can’t do anything
but watch. Either way, they’re silent on the issue. I put
the song on a second time to write the poem, or to finish writing it,
since I was at first going to write something else entirely,
something about how you can go back and bewitch old ideas,
before I noticed the smoke. I’m at the ten minute mark now
and can see the end approaching. And then Robin calls
and tells me she’s glad we’re OK. I’m glad too,
as Neil Young is singing “dancing across the water” over
and over, he’s caught up, and I feel I am too, in some way,
imagining no other days, no other times.

John Gallaher co-edits The Laurel Review. His most recent collection of poetry is Your Father on the Train of Ghosts, co-authored with G.C. Waldrep (BOA 2011).