By Fire

When I pass an abandoned, half-wrecked building,
on a waste-lot, in winter, the smell of the cold
rot decides me - I am not going
to rot. I will not lie down in the ground
with the cauliflower and the eggshell mushroom,
and grow a fungus out of my stomach
steady as a foetus, my face sluicing off of me,
my Calvinist lips blooming little
broccolis, my hair growing,
my nails growing into curls of horn, so there is
always movement in my grave. If the worm
were God, let it lope, slowly, through my flesh, if its
loping were music. But I was near, when ferment
moved, in its swerving tunnels, through my father,
nightly, I have had it with that,
I am going to burn, I am going to pour my
body out as fire, as fierce
pain not felt I am leaving. The hair
will fizzle around my roasting scalp, with a
head of garlic in my pocket I am going out.
And I know what happens in the fire closet,
when the elbow tendons shrink in the heat, and I
want it to happen - I want, dead, to
pull up my hands in fists, I want
to go out as a pugilist.

~Sharon Olds, "Blood, Tin, Straw"

{"Bonfire" by Howlitzer, Deviantart}

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