Adult Category - 3rd Place Winner


We would set the flame
from the caved in face of the soiled matchbox
held captive too long in the pockets of small boys

set alight the long grass by the side of the golf course
or the wheat field behind my parents' house 

turn our backs to see which one of the two of us
would lose their courage first
would have to turn, in an inferno of shouts and shared laughter
to put it out
before the adults came running
in dumb delivery across the fields, bringing us their world.

Later on we left our homes, families, our country
became estranged, then unknown to each other

eventually even his face started to change shape, dissolve

it was many years later still
when I heard on the radio
of the fire in that city that I have never been to
in which I knew nobody
that burnt though a school, a nightclub, factories, keep going
in an unstoppable, untamed energy
that for a moment bought him back, heatproof, immaculate.

~ by Alan Hill