30 November 2022

Poem 12, 2022

None of the Lights

I answered with reluctance when you invited me
to a bonfire by the beach with young girls and a local
who, despite her kind demeanor, reduced
me to a stranger by the minute.

"I like nature," I said, while pining
for the city's running water.
"It will be fun," you breathed, letting the waves
and its musical muscle win me over.

My feet never felt lighter against the rocks,
walking towards hazy faces gathered in a circle
that will soon dismantle as all things do
when built on sand.

We took our time, understanding
the patience required to start and keep a fire.
We reaped rewards,
for long we lingered at full flame.

Crackling wood hypnotized and snapped
me back into the moment, safe in the weight
of your voices. Embers each of us I thought
indistinguishable. Inextinguishable.

That amber night still consumes
my waking days. I struggle
to solve the mystery of how we stumble
upon company so good and with so short a history.

None of the lights now warm the neck.
Holiday drones fail to dazzle.
Fluorescent tubes reveal diseases.
Marketing firms snuff romance out of candles.

Gone are our childhood fireflies,
trapped in jars and picture books.
A lover's eyes cast shadows of doubt.
Polished glasses reflect half-truths.

And what of the sun? Certain
to arrive, to nourish, to harm, to fill
a side of the world with color,
none of which brightens this faraway noon.

—Razel Estrella

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