Electrical Fire At 3AM (as Mercury Stations Direct)

Electrical Fire At 3AM (as Mercury Stations Direct) | Zocalo Public Square • Arizona State University • Smithsonian

This painting by Joseph Mallord William Turner, A Study of Firelight (Venice?), was completed around 1840. Photo © Tate / CC-BY-NC-ND 3.0 (Unported).

for Panella

It was too generous for gunshots,
too casual for fireworks. Our house
sparked once, then oncetwice, oncetwice.

Fire. In this day and age. Livid
until we understood, we rose from bed
and put on pants, one leg, then the other.
You called the fire chief. You were the first
of us to put on clothes and transition,
private to public, while the heavens and sun spots
took stock of us, shrugged, passed us over.
A long time
went by, everyone in their pajamas trading
tales of worse than a telephone pole
on fire, more gruesome by the minute,
as if we weren’t all just country kids
who’d forgotten meteor showers. The dark
like line breaks. The sound of night
beneath sound. I tell my fair share, look
at you to corroborate—and you are gazing up at it.

July Westhale is a translator and writer living in Oakland, California.

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