The Fire Museum

Jennifer Fumiko Cahill

Beside the copper bell and hammer, 
a tea-brown gas mask stares out, left eye 
cracked. A tangle of rope, blackened 
and frayed, lies pressed under glass 
like a lock of hair. What doesn't burn 
becomes relic, talisman against. 

On a scroll, huge petals of fire curl
from a wooden house. Firemen run 
bare-legged toward it, tattooed 
with the motifs of invulnerability:
twisting carp, samurai, a red octopus
winding around the back and arms.

Their bodies glow on the paper
like the painted lanterns they carry
running, themselves lit.