#69: Afterburn

(Rain Concerto: Houses in Dark)

     The rain had come too late for the fire and had passed away.  But these sodden, carbonized towers--like blunted sticks of charcoal--remain wet.  The rain cannot wash away the sour, acrid smell of their afterburning, of their slow, sullen smouldering, the weeping of constructed things when their implacability has been scorched away.  A burnt building is brittle black lace. 
     When I was five, the huge wooden greengrocers store across from our house burned down, and while it was burning--all night long--rapacious phantom flames danced and leaped on my bedroom walls and I thought it was our house that was on fire.  Even now, the smell of an old, dead house-fire fills me with horror.