The Fire of Twenty-Thirteen

It only takes a moment, and then
her body burns, the skin lifting away

in the shape of leaves—an oak, a willow branch, a maple—
as if she’s known this language for years.

She is screaming, she is speaking
in tongues, she is a woman

lost in dreams. Around here, it is only heat
and burn—and then there is the numbness, too.

A chill. A spider finding its way
through the nerves, the rope.

In case of a fire, the elevator is closed.

The spider takes the stairs, the spine,
like a ladder, looking for a way out:

a vibration, a scream,

the mouth is open.


When it comes, the meaning of water
is transformed.

It is not soothing and cool—it burns.
It suffocates.

The blue is a form of darkness
inside the house.


Then the house is no longer a house.


It is as if she has become a part of it—
the pictures, the clothing, melting—

the water seeming to strip away
what skin she believes is left. More blue.

More numbness.


When it comes, the color of the sun and the sky
are yellow, like a crayon, and then she is seeing

the house from the outside: the burn,
the tiles, the shingles, folding,

the main doorway like a mouth,
left open in a scream, bending, twisting,

into what only can be a more painful cry.

The sound that comes to mind reminds her
of wolves, echoing in a canyon,

absent of trees
that were sent away by the heat.


About mckenzielynntozan

McKenzie Lynn Tozan lives and writes in Indiana, where she works as a virtual assistant, editor, and freelance writer via her self-started business, MLT Creative. She received her MFA in Poetry from Western Michigan University, where she worked as the Layout and Design Editor for New Issues Poetry and Prose and as an Assistant Poetry Editor for Third Coast. She previously completed her B.S. in Secondary English Education and B.A. in English, with a Concentration in Writing, at Indiana University South Bend, where she worked as the Managing Editor for 42 Miles Press. Her poems have appeared in Rogue Agent, Whale Road Review, the James Franco Review, Emerge Literary Journal, Encore Magazine, Thank You for Swallowing, The Spooklet, Sleet Magazine, and Analecta, among others; and her book reviews and essays have appeared on The Rumpus and Motherly. When not writing, she enjoys art and music, and the simple mathematics of being a wife of one, a mama of two, and a cat-mom of three. For more, visit View all posts by mckenzielynntozan

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