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Up in Flames, a poem by Mary Redman

Up in Flames
by Mary Redman

In a rusted barrel behind a frumpish house,
raged a growing pyre fed with scraps
from a cardboard box.
Its tender was no white-garbed virgin
stirring ritual flames, but a young wife
in a cotton housedress.
Brown hair fastened at the base
of her neck escaped
and lashed her face with strands
while she worked against the wind,
her mouth a grim line. There was time—
the babies napped, and the older children
were off to play. 
Impassively she incinerated pages—
was nearly finished, had heaped a final load
into the backyard drum.  
Then, caught off-guard by smoke-
reddened eyes and heat that pinked her cheeks,
she watched a gust lift one lit page,
sail it aloft, and set the field ablaze. 

When the firetrucks and her neighbors
arrived, she said nothing of her blunder.
An empty box lay in stubbly grass,
while embers of dreams she’d released
floated like fireflies through the white oaks
hung with green acorns
in thickening afternoon shadows.

Mary Redman is a retired high school English teacher who currently works part time supervising student teachers for University of Indianapolis. She enjoys having time to volunteer and to take classes at the Indiana Writers Center. She has had poems published in Flying Island, Three Line Poetry, Red River Review, Northwest Indiana Literary Journal, and Tipton Poetry Journal, and elsewhere.