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the fire eater’s wife

Kristy Bowen

Sometimes, even the blankets
caught flame, the kitchen chairs.
Ashes in her hair and the children

safe in the tub. She gives
up cigarettes, her Saturday night
old-fashioned. Becomes sulky,

sullen, sugared. Buries eggs
in the backyard before they set
to boiling. Knows a man

can take to wanting like that,
a thirst for kerosene, a lust for paraffin.
His tongue blistering when he sleeps.

Last night, an entire town gone up
just like that, matches missing
from every cupboard in three counties.

Her yellow curtains singeing as she opened
the window. Crawled inside his throat
with her stiff drink, her ransom note.

Kristy Bowen

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