Living Fires

I read somewhere
that a flame
is identical to respiration:
The chemical combination
of oxygen with any other thing
both requires and releases heat.

Iron, carbon, nitrogen,
anything combines
when the time is hot enough.
And the turbulent re-creation
is limited only by a lack
of fresh new things to burn.

Like the legend of the man
who fought and fell, and as he died,
instead of growing cold and hard
his body burst to flames.
Intensity alone
makes a flame to glow,

forces us to breathe,
and draws a little line
to separate the living
from what’s only ash and smoke.

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