After the House Fire

The man and woman escaped
only with their night clothes
and their terrier,

all other softness in their lives
now ashes sifting through lumps
of metal, misshapen and mangled,

even the red pickup’s
useless black bones hang
from the skeleton of a garage

haunted by the trees –
a carefully pruned row
of burnt orange evergreens

that mock their name.
Ghostly neighbors gape
at lush summer lawns,

still erect with arms raised,
heads proud, soft needles
fossilized, refusing

to disintegrate, like the blue
couch and wedding photos
and the old man’s boots.

Joanne Durham is a retired educator lucky to live on the coast of North Carolina, USA, with the ocean as her backyard. She finds many poems waiting to be explored there. She also practices yoga, delights in her grandkids, and tries to do what she can to make a better world for them to grow up in. Links to her poetry can be found at

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