burned fire ash

Jo White

she burned

me with the spark struck between us

she messaged first     she pursued me

a girl six years her junior     a girl

who had only been on a handful of dates—

only one of which was with a woman—

who never should have answered that message

on that app i never should have downloaded

from the woman i never should have met     the woman

i probably never would have met if she had not

messaged first     if she had not pursued me

she graduated college before i ever left high school

and we had nothing in common really except the fact

that we both liked women—and though i was still figuring that out

i followed the light     i followed the woman with danger

glinting in her aqua eyes like sparks of the sun

sprinkled over the ocean     she lit a match under me that

i should have predicted would eventually die

but even when her dim light was

brighter than my pitch darkness

and back then, i was not afraid of being burned;

in fact, when she burned me, i liked how

 

her fire

scorched my skin. i had never been so warm in my life—

not even when i stayed in Gulf Shores, Alabama, summer of 2016

and reclined in a lounge chair on the beach for three hours

reading an atrocious novel by Nick Sparks documenting

the illuminating romance i did not believe the bleak world

could even sustain—and then half a decade later

my first love held out a matchstick to me;

our skin grazed and the friction erupted into a blaze

fueled by extravagant professions of love

premature promises of a white picket fence

and the hope, even when our light was flickering, that

“this isn’t goodbye”

“we’ll get through this together”

“you and i are a team”

but cliches can’t even fuel a bonfire

let alone a wildfire

and eventually all flame-consumed girls return

 

to ash

the silver-grey ash the black still

smoldering perhaps eternally smoldering

ash of a white-hot love stamped on by someone

who said they would tend it

but instead watched as the house

they promised to build me burnt

right to the ground

but maybe that’s not so bad

i escaped with first degree burns

but she has to live with this fact:

she burned the very fire she lit

right to fucking ash

Contributor's Note

Jo White is a junior, an English major, and a Creative Writing minor. She spends most of her free time writing, reading, and exercising her creativity in some way, watching hours of YouTube videos about various topics that she will never need to know in her life, or curled up on the couch with her girlfriend and their cat. She wants to thank everyone who’s helped give her the courage to share her writing.