Kennedy Birtcher

I have smelled my fair share of smoke
and you,
you smell like all the sweetness of it.

You’re in the firepit first.
Broken gathering breaking bread when
dad throws the cat back
over the neighboring fence
and I am still young enough to laugh
until Mom is broiling grease.
You’re in the sheet pan of open flame
in the palm of her hand and
the ashen scar on the countertops of suburbia
where you wait for an ill-advised firework
to sear the mailbox and
scald the not-yet-deaf dog awake.
You hide in that dent of singe
at 3020 Teakwood Ln
but you move with me
knotted in my hair
from woody campfires and pires
of leaves.
Then, my favorite,
you lure a fire truck two doors down to
the half-built house now half-burnt,
far enough away but somehow
two states away,
the embers of my uncle’s
are closer.

You’re in his dead ends exhumed
and the guilt my mother wrestles
and the laughter I’m too old to be laughing
and the best possible outcome for him. You
are the air I gasp and laugh and choke.
What I’ve lost so far, I’ve more than gained in smoke.
You make me so glad to see a house on fire.

Kennedy Birtcher is a first-year studying Radio/TV/Film and Creative Writing. She enjoys looking at stuff and using words incorrectly just for the thrill of it.