Love and Other Fire Hazards

by Shelley Valdez

this morning    i woke up wanting
to tell you         that i am a burning        house

                a lightning
                stovetop disaster        a sound 
                                                             with no alarms 
maybe at first i was a city
and maybe the Almighty              wanted me damned 
maybe i am a hazard        and a place
where nothing grows       but still
i’ve found a willow     who would weep for me
who lets our limbs    turn to trees  
              imagines us    blooming
when the sunlight makes shapes
at our elbows and the sheets
grow too warm for our skin
you ask me if i want 
to get Fancy Coffee                      and the answer
                                                              is Always Yes
            near the swing set 
            near the railroad 
            near the memorials lining the freeway
we ring invisible doorbells at the playground
               you    are the strange and sudden mailman 
                    i    am the girl who invites you to stay
and while we stroll past slides and awnings
and build homes from plastic roofs 
i want to tell you of the space 
my pulse will make for you               how yes
                 that is the living room      and yes
                 it’s filled with flames
but if you wanted to dance
                 i’d still let you 
                 wreck the furniture
and as we press our palms
to our centers and imagine
the songs that could sleep there 
i wonder how to tell you how 
the last person who fit my head 
against their heartbeat 
                 burned my bones 
                 and burst my vessels
                                   with the same hands
but you      assemble
the stars in my bedroom         you
                offer your wrists
                for glitter and ink        you
                            drink the sparks 
                            that line your coffee cup      and taste only sacredness
how uncanny, and how grateful
i am to be the fire
you walk through        anyway        to know a 
love       a feeding inferno
love       a tender severity 
                love      the storm
                              and the shelter
                                              all at once