Too Hot To Handle
It burns like a hot poker
pressed against hide,
the foul odor of singed
hair an offense to the nostrils,
the hot silence as the steer is set free,
identity now altered forever.
It burns like a teen’s eyes
at the end of first love,
tears unable to assuage
the pain of parting.
It burns like the incinerated
toast in a new bride’s kitchen,
like the blister from a
still-hot sparkler on the
4th, like a campfire,
like a marshmallow too
close to the flame.
It burns like the fireplace
log, smoldering, flaming up,
smoldering, smoking, flaming
up again. It burns
like a pandemic.
It’s enough to boggle the mind,
how content, complacent, how fat
our country basked, beyond reason.
It came, a new dread
as insidious as slowly melting lard
infecting everyone who held
even the least contact. The spread dispelled
a nation’s self-righteous hopes, the last
bastion of pride dashed as chagrined
politicians got into the act, charting unknown
waters and festering fear, feeding a hunger
for discovering new campaign rhetoric. Complaints
splattered the airwaves, reporters’ mouths
flapped like fireflies blinking at dusk.
They couldn’t help themselves as they floured
the news with suspicions, left families weeping
for loved ones. Suspicion, hate, and fear became a wall
dividing generations—theirs and ours.
Dixie Brown is retired from the Boeing Company where she updated Engineering procedures and facilitated quality improvement groups. Prior to working at Boeing, she was a classroom teacher, then a resource teacher for Special Education in the Derby School System. She lives in a retirement community in Wichita, Kansas, where she leads reading and writing groups, hosts a poetry group as well as serving as volunteer librarian. She is a Stephen Minister, a poet, a member of Kansas Author’s Club, a 5th generation Kansan, a wife, mother and grandmother.