All is quiet but the disheveled stranger
rummaging for salvageables among the debris.
Cars crawl the street, window-eyes popping
and locking on the tortured and sobering scene—
plywood intruding where glass ought to be;
siding twisting out like peels from an onion;
second-floor porch broken, charred on the ground;
scattered, scorched things invading the yard,
fouling a fresh, frigid winter breath.
Neighbors will speak for days
of flames shooting through rifts,
darting and curling like tongues of snakes,
licking walls and flicking smoke
that billows and blackens, and assaults you
till you choke; and the mechanic
from a few houses down, perpetually disgruntled,
perpetually clad in work clothes and grease,
who bullied his way through peril and fear
to drag out the old man, invisible
and nameless to him only moments before.
© 2004 Dennis Ference