The Bonding Fire

By Sheldon Lee Compton

In the time it takes a flame to collapse in on itself. The possible lover. The possible totem of all impulse greets the loved with stealth, the muscles of his heart constricting and swelling and then again and over again. This scrutiny of impulse, it becomes all the world at once, a choleric thing crying out for reward. Could the possible lover have buried it among Pando’s roots so the quaking aspen, a male in its own right, could act as guard and prison and fellow prisoner? No use, as the possible lover is a train when determined, all iron and bolt cutters and wild soot. And she became the flame or gave birth in waves to the flame in the eye of a possible lover. She became or yes came from the brightened wood because she could hide and be hidden and was tempered from the bonding fire. On a day of innocence all of humankind burned the rank tonnage of their garbage to create pitchy ghosts rising and wrapping themselves around her limbs, darkening her body, refining her to an ebony ash collective so infirm the weight of one butterfly scale could collapse her. Wounded and falling, hardly healing, she can’t bolster herself into a warrior, no matter the thousands of hours spent gazing across the smoothness of scars to remind herself of hate; she can only go rigid while her lungs are pulled away, vicious roundhouse jerking and snagging and tearing. But a meeting – no less than a hydrogen bomb and a body of still water. But a devastation – a patch of blue sky dodging darkness until there are no more moves. After all of it, a sadness beyond sadness beyond sadness rests on the surface of the possible lover’s moving blood. He knows she carries her bonding fire like a whelp, babying it from an amaranthine wind, sacrificing some kind of love along the way. And goddamn if he can do anything other than blow wild soot and live on. But all the seconds timbered into long years, the dark hurt of that, a private rack for the guilty.

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Sheldon Lee Compton

Sheldon Lee Compton / About Author

Sheldon Lee Compton is the author of four books, most recently A True Story: A Novella. His stories and poetry can be found in Wigleaf, Gravel, New World Writing, gobbet, Peach Mag, Unbroken Journal, Live Nude Poems, and elsewhere. He was cited in Best Small Fictions 2015 and Best Small Fictions 2016.

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