Home > “Bonfire” by Deanna Young (Poetry Contest Winner)

The made-for-TV movie they showed in school
about a mother and kids driving over a bridge in the sun
to a rundown house and splashing each other with paint
to music, is coming true. Though the father there
was dead, where ours is just killing himself slowly
in another town. My new bed is from the Sally Ann.
I spray the iron frame brass and am suddenly rich,
fold a blanket three times, like a charm, and place it
over the springs that claw like fingers from the mattress.
This is where I’ll come to love geometry, discover
modern poetry and lose what we’ll call my virginity.
After a month I look down and my nails have grown.
It scares me to think what I’d be now if she hadn’t
left then. To know what I am. A scorched girl, shame
crackling under my skin, a strong man in a muscle shirt
feeding my sleep with brush. We have no way of knowing,
when we’re young. Only a spark, maybe, that takes,
then rages, keeps driving us toward the door
of a rundown house, ourselves twenty years later.
Struck. Prepared to enter. Standing behind a stroller
before a wall-sized painting of fire by Mary Pratt.
Warming our hands at the edge of art until fire
becomes paint becomes fire again and our face grows hot.

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