That little place—it burned in May this year,
Touched, torched by riot flames in the city…
What city? Could be any city now;
It doesn’t matter which or where. They’re all
Debris and fatwood meant to kindle fire.
That little place—familiar, homely, worn.
You sent a video of girls at play
In spars and ashes of the sitting room.
A crazy wind up-whirled the riot’s flecks
Into the air. Humanity is dust.
That little place—the table piled with books
Of poetry and art with colored plates,
The chairs where voices flared and, musing, fell,
The jessamine that pressed against the glass
And filtered out all fury from the sun.
That little place—the room for films and talks,
The studio where artists came to make:
A meeting place beyond our barriers,
Its walls bedecked with thumbtacked images
That must have singed and curled and flown away.
That little place—the last day I was there,
I listened as you spoke, wineglass in hand,
In praise of how each man and woman bears,
But inwardly, Imago Dei’s stamp,
And all are different, and yet all one.
That little place—existing in lost time,
It holds our voices still, refined by flame.
Daydreaming through the rooms, I conjure up
The blown-glass salamanders on a sill
That surely bonfire-brightened, gloried, ran.