From the Attic at Thornfield

She did not want to burn
down the house because
she was in love with fire.

It was never that.
It was because of the closed
doors, the straight walls

that stopped any long breathing,
that told her, when she tried
to laugh, to stop.

And the chairs, the chairs
slim and delicate,
lined against the edge

of a room, lap sideways
to lap, no one facing.
Even the windows looking out

felt too slick and hard
to her fingers, nothing open
about them. How did she know

that what she saw
outside was really there?
That the hedges were any more

yielding than a locked door?
And the stones rose in walls so high,
so thick, she had never found
the way out.
                         In the first delicate
lickings of flame, the lovely

leafings of orange, yellow,
the prickings and twinings
of the snapping noises,

she could hear voices,
the click of new tongues,
the lap of loud breathing,

and she knew
that as the roar began,
with its great wind, blackness,

red over brightest red, flames
that took over the sky
she knew she did love it

now, it was all
she had ever loved,
this sweet terror

that raced its own body
together with hers
over the terraces, the gardens,

out to the orchards, the hills,
its blazing voice
finally loud enough,

that the only way it would ever stop
would be when it had spoken
to everything it could find,

and there would be,
for the first time,
nothing left, nothing

left to say.

-Wendy Barker 

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