Living with Fire

It wasn’t until we learned to live with fire
That the human brain achieved its emotional
Depth, this documentary says. We torched
Our meat with heat, devoured its charred flesh,
And learned to feel color and the promise
Of a crooked pinky finger and the desire
To share this last piece of meat with a body
We now know better than our own
Because we have pressed ourselves into these
Arms to feel them squeeze back into our chest,
Leaving our sweaters on but feeling a shiver
Down into legs we forgot we could ever
Have done without, and we

Are so transfixed by the fire on this screen,
By how our ancestors worshipped a creature
Bubbling inside their bones—shaping
Humanity from the inside out, that I worry
That what has ignited their skin and brains
Will leave my lungs scarred and choking
On the burnt body I will continue to hold when
Everything between our pinkies is ash—my
Fingers reaching for more when there is nothing
Left—all because our ancestors learned to live
With fire, but I have learned nothing but to stoke
The creature inside my stomach and hope that
It will not burn me from the inside out.

Rosa Canales is a recent graduate of Denison University. Her work has appeared in Capsule Stories, Lammergeier, perhappened mag, and the Sigma Tau Delta Review.

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