The Fire Next Door

by Jessica Purdy
A fire!  Looking out my window
at the neighbor’s scorched
mattress, the cardboard boxes
filled with their stuff,
it looks like they’re moving,
or maybe they needed
an excuse for spring cleaning.  
Why didn’t I hear the fire engines
in the spring quiet of five AM?  
Was I already dreaming my own fear?  
The faulty wiring,
the careless match, the drunk cigarette?  
How beautiful it was,
our little street like a movie set,
the houses just facades leaning on two by fours,
and the five fire engines (five!)
with all the lights whirring, running on toy batteries
and the sun still not quite up,
the firemen in and out of the house.  
I must not be fearing burning alive enough,
because if I was then it would have been
a fire in my bed,
and the engines wouldn’t have come on time.
Jessica Purdy holds an MFA in Creative Writing from Emerson College where she also taught writing and was a reader for Ploughshares.  She has a BA in English and Studio Art from UNH.  Her poetry has appeared in Literary Mama, What is Home (the 2007 Portsmouth Poet Laureate program’s publication), Ethereal Dances, Analecta, The Beacon Street Review, and Main Street magazine.  She runs poetry workshops in downtown Exeter and facilitates weekend writing retreats on Cape Cod:  Harwich Port House Writing Retreat.  She lives in Exeter, New Hampshire with her husband and two children.

© 2009, Jessica Purdy