GLOWBOY


He would have been lit anyway. 
The full moon and the hard-packed snow

he was followed by a wake
of browning slush.

we watched him, through ice on window
we were tired
tending the fading fire 
measuring stores against each present flame.

my wife opened the door, and beckoned him
I'm sure I would have done so just a moment later.
he turned his face towards her
the flames around him flickered
his glow reflected in his own futile
pool of water.

He entered
we sat him by the fire as one does with guests
and were silent
as one is with guests in these parts

he was a child 
my son I called him though I never spoke it.
'Help me,'he said
he wished it in the name of hospitality

The heat he gave us was warm and soothing
diamonds on the windows
transformed to dew
moistening the room
breathing became easy
I drank in mouthfuls
as with harvest beer
the fire died in envy

'Help me.'
'How can we help?' I said.
'I am burning.'

There were no burns upon him.
Better than to freeze to death.
'Count your blessings,' I said.
We have learnt to accept so much.
What else can you teach a child?
'You would have frozen out there
without this miracle.'

'Help me,' he said. 'I am burning '
I shook my head. Children see only the present pain 
never the wider shape of suffering and sacrifice
My wife
touched my lips as I began to speak
her fingers burnt with what I always imagined
passion would be
I almost forgot the child
in the sudden urge to embrace
without the struggle tp preserve the coverings
(Love in this climate is always the choice
ot which part to leave freezing -
the glow never quite makes the whole anatomy -
or if it ever did, I forget.

in winter summer is only a wild yearning
for the clearly impossible)

she guided my face to watch him
a tear in his eye moving slowly down
never made his cheek
before bubbling away.

He was burning. I knew it.
I could not deny it, having
seen it with my own eyes,
felt it with my body.
'How can this be?' I said.

'Help me.'

My wife was weeping,
warm for the first time and
weeping
her tears moving freely
within the laws
-of gravity

'GOD', she cried.
her eyes touching his flames -
I understood her.
How can you thank Him
and curse Him at the same time?
It must be a failure
in our understanding.

'Help me.'

'Do you want the fire put out?'
My wife never spoke
sometimes she is most unhelpful

she moves towards him
her skin red and bloated
she could not reach him.

We had only ice to offer
and that he turned to air
tor the fire to feed on

'Have you visited others?' I said
Someone must know the answer
there's a wise man over the hill.'

'That was the way he came '
my wife reminded me.
What else can I say?

Silence.

He rose and left us
this child who should have run in all directions
walk doggedly away
like an extinguished man

My wife stood in the doorway
I watched him though the diamonds as they
reformed
until there were hundred
glowboys
on the far horizon.

'Close the door.'

We sat, but it was difficult to gain the energy
to rekindle
My wife wept.
Her tears turned to ice and cut her cheeks.

I understood
We had truly wished to help the boy.
What can anybody do?

I missed the warmth. 

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