Sweat can’t find enough pores
To escape my skin.
Hands in the mouth of Hell,
Retrieving bones from the flesh the flame took.
Dark red tanned forearms,
Pulsating from overuse.
Just three more.

But then,

I saw her.


Lunging, wheezing figure,
White sheet with faded brown blood stain.
She, in pain, afraid.

I close my eyes,
Pausing my attempt to clean the hearth.
I speak aloud,

“I am so sorry.
I am so sorry.
I am just one man.
I’m doing what I can
To do right by you all.
I feel your pain, too.
The burdens I carry can hurt.
Please, forgive me if I’ve crossed you.”


Standing in the dissonance
Of a cooling machine
And another decedent.

Be kind to the dead.