It started small;
Just sparks and a match.
The flame barely flickered,
Barely lived, and any breeze,
No matter how slight,
Would have been enough
To end the matter.
But fire’s nature is to grow,
And it was so sheltered,
So well fed and protected
That the flame grew steady,
Melting wax and burning through
The wick that played its nursemaid.
Fire is warmth and fire is life,
But with any life, it must not be left
Alone and unattended.
Just as a child grows unruly,
Running through the house
With no sense of order,
Growing wicked and wild,
So does a flame.
It may have burned itself out
When it reached the wick’s end,
But this flame, that had started so small,
So unassuming and frail,
Was determined to live,
To grow, to spread.
It sparked, just as Mother Match
Had done and it jumped,
From candlestick to parchment,
Just a little spark, but the ember caught.
Slowly burning a ring into its prey,
Until ember turned to flame
And spread once more.
No page was left untouched,
And as records and letters and clutter
Were cleared away a flame became a fire.
And the flames dripped off the mahogany,
Which only minutes ago was a beautiful desk,
And spread to a rug with swirling patterns.
Geometric shapes that brought to mind nature,
Flowered paths and tall oak trees and bird songs.
But the fabric forest turned to black,
Smothered by the intensity of fire’s passion,
Eroded away to reveal the polished wood below.
And fire takes that too, feeds and grows,
Running from desk to rug to floor to curtains,
And then up a wall and onto the ceiling.
The fire branches out, growing faster now than
Any match or candle may ever dream of doing.
Flames spiral around the room now,
Blazing through the walls and ceiling,
Just as embers blazed through parchment.
They dance through the air as they surge onward,
Moving from room to room, devouring all they can.
Feasting on kitchen and servants’ quarters and hallways,
On dining room and bedroom, parlor and nursery.
Never satisfied. Never sated. Never stopping.
The fire is ablaze, engulfing all it touches.
Glass windows shatter under the heat’s pressure,
And smoke swirls out into the sky, free at last to flee the flames,
Though fire’s tendrils rise to follow the ashen air,
Dreaming to touch the sky and know the feel of flying or floating or falling.
But fire takes too much too quickly, and the house it used to grow,
To feed and spread and rise and soar, can take no more of fire’s roar.
The wood is weakened, and the roof is sagging, and still the flames
Grow higher and higher. Until there can be no more.
The wood bends and breaks, and the roof falls.
Fire drops down once more and sparks fly—
But flames die.