There are no songs for the burning child
who falls and falls and falls.
No spiel that doesn’t choke the throat
or set adrift from a paper face,
to spin and float in charcoal curls.
The burning child, he falls forever.
He cannot be stopped or stalled,
impossible to catch or save,
he burns the voyeurs’ retinas to black suns.
He labours in negative.
He takes and takes, and burns and burns,
that child, all those he touches as he falls.
And in that time we may remain at finger stretch,
or elect to turn our backs on the burning child,
kneed our eye-sockets red. Whilst some
pause only to adjust the shutter speed.
It is April and the countryside spins
on the cusp of summer. The sky
is full of watercolour strokes,
it stretches sideways into dusk.
We both know
it is the best time for such encounters.
The ghost-light savage, glows
perch to fence to tree,
punctuating the sentence of night.
The moon blinks its response,
she swallows it whole and takes flight.
As a child, there are things I just couldn’t know,
that “love” is a nightingale held aloft by a hundred pale lies,
that these frigid winged creatures are often just for show.
As a teen there was nothing I thought I didn’t know
except that forever can still mean never sometimes.
As an adult there is still so much I admit I’ll never know
but “love” is a nightingale held aloft by a hundred pale lies.
Jennie E. Owen’s writing has been widely published online, in literary journals and anthologies. She teaches Creative Writing for The Open University and lives in Lancashire, UK with her husband and three children. She is currently working towards her PhD with MMU.