but I couldn’t even feel the flame
crawling across my skin
– thin and blue –
no heat, no charred skin, no blistered fingertips
not with the words or hands
not even to look at.
there is no fire
and watched it snake and slither across the skin –
blue thin flame
held close to the bone
tight in fist,
my breath withheld.
to uncoil in all the glory of it:
jeweled scales shimmering
this shiny coat of arms.
To feel it, rippling across the ground:
the searing, burning, vicious heat of it,
still withheld in my chest, mouth, head
rough and hot and raging
consuming every good and wicked deed and thought and dream
unsaid words like screaming flames
caught in my barbed throat.
Leave well enough alone.
just one claw, just one tooth, just one precious scale.
Just one lick of flame:
thin and blue
scrawled upon my naked skin.
© Maria Haskins, 2015
This poem can be found in my book ‘Cuts & Collected Poems 1989 – 2015’.