The fire was started by a spark
igniting coconut husk
fiber in a cushion maker’s house.

Several people die each year on country roads.
Returning inebriated from taverns,
body heat depleted by alcohol,
they are drawn to warm macadam.
They lie down.
Four out of five drivers stop.
Some are run over more than once.

The fire was started by a spark
igniting coconut husk
fiber in a cushion maker’s house.

They applaud as the hearse drives by.
Victim’s father witnesses the execution,
fulfilling the promise of the day
his son was buried.

The fire was started by a spark
igniting coconut husk
fiber in a cushion maker’s house.

Archbishop orders fiftyfour Templars
burned at the stake
for retracting confessions.
Bearded man stops at the center of the bridge.
He is assigned to the work crews.
He watches two infants and a woman
placed on a grill
over a firey pit.

The fire was started by a spark
igniting coconut husk
fiber in a cushion maker’s house.

First published in The Quarterly
C 1989

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