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A Four-Year-Old Makes Believe


My daughter builds a fire
Out of water and construction paper
At the kitchen sink.
She adds blue and orange strips
To the half-gallon plastic container.
She measures from the tap
Cups of water she calls fuel.
She swirls with the wooden spoon
A sprinkling of silver glitter and adds
A touch of dishwashing soap.
The fire burns as she stirs.
Inches of suds spill over the sides
Into the porcelain bowl and flow
Down the drain.
She tapes across the mouth
Of the container
A page from a coloring book,
A pastel robin with yellow eyes.
With a fork she tears
A hole in the center.
Fire needs air
She tells me.
Once again she pokes the wooden spoon
Into the hole and stirs the soaked and
Fading strips of blue and orange.
The glitter moves in slow motion
As though in a giant fire globe.
She asks if she can place her fire
In the middle of our kitchen table.
It burns as we
Eat our corn soup and pears.
And I think she doesn't know
That some fires
Burn the hearts from those who are loved.

Sheza Healey is a wife and mom who lives in Durham and teaches part-time at Durham Tech.

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