Cardboard as tinder, strips tightly
wound and set amongst the ashes, like
a pan of cinnamon rolls.
My fingers, uncharacteristically sure
of themselves, place kindling within the whorls;
sticks and twigs he gathered and
left as an uncertain offering at my feet.

It catches, the fire.
Licks and bites and snaps,
crawls and claws its way from
base to wisping logs in a
desperate clutch.

It’s a thing I know:
heat, fuel, air is a fire.
So few equations seem as reliable, now;
unexpected results, ineffectual and
laughable, in-my-faceable.
But this
one thing
I can do.

His equation has grown exponentially,
from heat, fuel, and air to givens
I no longer recognize,
variables I don’t understand.

And so my fingers shake as I lay his kindling in
precarious motion,
of stifling and
squandering and
until all that remains is my
desperate clutch.

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