What Is A Fire?

She will drift around like mist, almost not there. Close your eyes, shift your focus for a blink and she might be gone. It’s a risk you take; but what is a fire that does not promise to make ashes of everything? I know you know this.

An old fashioned quill has scratched beautiful calligraphy across your chest, just above your heart. Maybe she can see it through your shirt, ornate swirls as delicate as the tendrils of affection: I feel like this a miracle. You’re right, it is, but every miracle is also a test of faith.

Her eyes, for all their fathomless splendour, are sharp and they are searching you for something, peeling back the drapes that hang around you. She is walking inside you, her curious, supernova smile casting light and throwing shadows into corners so recently cleaned. You have renovated your soul, everyone can see it, but will she find what she’s looking for in there?

People think she’s air but you know she’s blood. She gives the impression of walking on clouds, of flitting through the world, of the loveliness of feathers, yet you have sat in her room past midnight and she has lifted that veil. There is a language that very few speak and she is of that tongue. For all that, you understand; not everything but enough. Together you have translated the world and both the thunder and the deafening quiet make more sense tonight.

There are a million theories but it is the singularity of knowing that brings you here, to this point of everything and nothing. Is it simple circumstance that has nudged you closer to her? Has the deck been blindly cut, or is this meant to be? Don’t answer. That is not the point. Your compass is your compass. You have this ship to sail in and the ocean is certainly wide enough; so tell your story of currents and islands and once nameless stars and let the rain be rain.

Every now and then a star explodes, that is what you want to say, and she is one such sun. That fear which is trapping your breath, not quite in, not quite out, is to be expected. What is a fire that does not burn the careless hand? Tell me of a light that is not also the outline of a shadow.

You are sifting the sand for anything that sticks, hoping there are clues in those grains. There are no answers in this sleuthing, in this trying to narrow the odds. Only more fear.

This is one of only two things we can ever truly grasp: it is the terror that comes with the prospect of loss. Everything else is a river of sand through your fingers. In time, if you are prepared to let it go, your fear too will trail away and you will find your voice.

She wants to hear you, that much is clear. She wants to know if you have the courage to feel what you feel. Do you? Is the sensation of flying too much for you? Have you room in your soul for a visitor who may choose to leave at any moment?

I know you do, your breathing has changed; so before you suffocate, before your silence and your vague approximate hinting cuts the oxygen to this miraculous flame, add the fuel. Her response is not yours to imagine, but the hymn of your love is for you alone to recite.

Say it. I have loved others before. I have loved and tried to possess and I have loved at the other extreme too, forgetting to care. The price has been paid, it was nearly too much, but now I have a lightness, an almost divine poverty, an emptiness that is full of you, my love.

You, my love. You, my love.

Can you feel it now? She may welcome you to her bed or ask you to leave and none of that matters because love is not a beggar. You are learning to love her for her and not just for you. Love burns despite.

Yet what is a fire that does not warm the soul? Flames dance the same in both light and dark, giving birth to planets and returning everything to the heart of stars. All of creation is carved in fire.

Ah, you are ready. You are walking to the foot of her stairs, little pilgrim, with your kernel of light. Shine it, boy. Let it blind you as it shows you the way.

She is waiting like a shimmer, like a petal drifting … unpossessable. Be as a river in this moment and you will come to know one of only two things we can ever truly grasp: the divine cascade of loving. In time, if you are prepared to let it flow, your hunger will also float away and you will come at last to the sea.

And that is where she too will be.

[This letter is an excerpt from a series of related short stories called Longing.]

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