The Pyromancer

by Ada Hoffmann

(They gather, the boats, in darkness
each with its lonely lantern.
Lit singly, singing, they wait
as you raise your blackened hands
atop the king’s tower
to stir a spark in the sky.)

They say the first thing you burned was yourself.
Surely such power must eat from the inside.
They say each conjured flame is agony,
pulling the scars yet deeper to your bones.

But scars grow only
in healing,
and shackles have keys.

(Those flames! Jewel-colored,
timpani-deep, woven in spheres
and spiraling shafts
to silhouette the battlements
before an orange moon.)

You burned yourself, yes. Once.
Young like a smith’s boy, incautious,
touching the forge.
What of it?
Nowadays, mornings, you walk calm
to the grocer with the whisperers and the rest:
cool coins in hand, the same plum juice
dripping down your chin.
Tonight you light the sky, not on orders, not in pain,
but because you love the colors

(just as they all do,
breathing the light, clasping hands, clapping hearts,
each tall to the sound of trumpets
in the shadow of a flame.)

Ada Hoffman lives on a grad-student budget in southern Ontario, where she routinely sings too many high notes for the neighbors’ comfort, talks to invisible people, and makes blood sacrifices to the Elder Gods in her fuzzy pajamas. When not absorbed in a story, she likes to study computational creativity and to rant about autism on her blog.

The word "cherry" makes Ada think of cherry yogurt, which makes her think of her mother. There is probably some deeper meaning in this somewhere.

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