Versions of Fire

by Rachael Crosbie

  1. On Guarantees

You knew this as a version of yourself. When whiskey

drove you past shale where sun did not touch—

eyes exposed, dry, wide. When you brought a match

to the bonfire that would amount to embers.

You stayed out there alone, unfeeling.


Shades of ash haloed your eyes—

fixated on intangible hollowness

you think you’ll find in these mountains

that are only mountains.


Whispers of static sheathed the dead spot

you reached, and a shock black spread

in the sky, powdered by gunshots blazing

through those too young to know the smoke.


  1. On Purification

You lit frankincense for dreams or nightmares

when you slept—your blouse slashed with raw earth

and charcoal shadows from the outside peering in.

You never slept, staring at it still lit in the morning,

smoldering a smooth rope of smoke that stretched

to your window—to a primal white sky, wheeling on.


This shot your nerves

while the burning fuse pointed to you.


  1. On Purification

On the patio deck, you straddled a tiki torch

to light your makeshift roll of tobacco leaves.

Slurring it’s not a cigarette. Heavy with rain,

gravity and cold winds swayed with you.

A bartender pulled you from the torch,

but between your fingers,

you held a wavering fire.


  1. On Guarantees

Drunk on rum & coke, cobalt lights sliced

across slippery leaves on a pineapple for a split second—

the bass or an earthquake rippled the floor and your skin.


At home, you stumbled over the litter box,

small grains vanishing in the yellow yarn rug.

Your calico scowled from underneath

the sink. Later, she lay on your lap, wiping your eyes.

Vision glistening, you wiped your hand

on a patch of ginger fur,

now marked by leopard spots of wet black.


  1. On Persistence

You didn’t mean it—not all of it.


Rachael Crosbie is the Editor-in-Chief & Founder of the winnow. She was recently published in Pussy Magic, Lucky Pierre Zine, and others. Above all, she loves dissecting horror films with her fiancé, reading poetry and literary theories, and hugging dogs.



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