Fire is an aria, not a red curtain.
What survived? A filing cabinet,
a pair of diamond earrings, a skillet.
Fire is a contest, not a medal.
What survived? A porcelain sink,
two spoons, a knife, some bricks.
Fire is a sermon, not a pulpit.
What survived? A wedding ring
made of gold, a hacksaw, a wrench.
What’s born in fire will not burn.
What survives? The memory of being
undone, re-formed: to forge ahead.
Fire is a gasp for breath, not a corpse.
What survived? Seeds of scrub pine,
lodge pole and jack, sleeping beauties.
All waiting for a furnace kiss.
Brandel France de Bravo:
“Resilience I” is part of a series of poems I wrote during the pandemic. The other resilience poems touch on efforts to conserve monarch butterflies’ habitat; consumerism and trees as practitioners of mutual aid; adaptation to rising sea levels on an unnamed Pacific Island; and a one-footed crow named René who became my regular corvid companion during COVID. “Resilience I” belongs to my recently completed poetry manuscript (Locomotive Cathedral), which opens with a quote from Antoine Lavoisier, the founder of modern chemistry: “nothing is lost, nothing is created, everything is transformed.” My interest in fire and its power to transform grew out of a few second-hand experiences and some reading: a Facebook friend from California posting photos of the almost unrecognizable and sometimes beautiful objects she found—her former belongings—in the ashes of her burned down house; a friend of a friend who lost everything in a fire but was able to recover the parts of her past that she had loaned or given to others; and an article in Discover magazine proclaiming that “fire is an event, not a thing.” This phrase was—forgive me—the triggering spark.