Mixed Blessing

by Terence Young

For a while we called it the good fire,
the best fire, the fire that saved us

because we were insured, and the insurance
paid for all the things we could never afford,

the new wiring and plumbing and paint
and sofas and stereos and computers

and clothes and pots and pans and bicycles
and carpets and curtains and state of the art

smoke detectors for the next fire, but
every once in a while an image of our

old basement kitchen will shove its way
to the head of the line in my thought parade

and I will believe, as I do sometimes in dreams
about things I’ve lost to disease, the years, the

insatiable ocean, that it still exists somewhere,
behind a door that I have only to open

and walk through to find our son, seated at
the makeshift bar, eating a snack after school,

my wife down on her knees trying to clean
the hopelessly stained lino, our daughter

about to arrive with her boyfriend, and me, too,
fiddling with the coffeemaker that started

the whole conflagration in the first place,
only this time deciding not to repair it, un-

plugging the thing instead and carrying it wisely
to my workshop where all toys and appliances

went to die, and leaving it there, returning
with a bottle of terrible homemade wine

which I pour into a couple of glasses
from the cupboard where we used to store our

hippy goblets made from clay and the poisonous
lead decanters handed down, the sorts of things

we never replaced after they burned, like the
Victrola and my father’s pewter mug, or couldn’t,

like our youngest’s  kindergarten rendering of a
tugboat – blue hull, aquamarine ocean, blowing

billows of smoke into a cloudless and benign sky.

— from Juniper Volume 1, Issue 2