It’s a perfect night for a campfire. The air is crisp and brittle, and the fire crackles an orange yellow blue sunset in front of me. I don’t know what it is about fire that makes me stare. There’s something in the heart of those flames, some secret, some memory or truth, behind the curtain, behind the heat, something I can sense but can’t quite see, and I am transfixed. Everyone else has gone to bed, but I’m awake, alone, staring at the fire, and I don’t know what I’m looking for, but I know it’s there, right now, in a language my eyes can’t read, and in the morning it’ll be gone, all of it, with only ash and destruction left behind.
One night, years ago, my house burned down. We stood there in the street, the neighbors gathering around us, and we watched. The heat was incredible. Everything we owned, all of it, was being consumed, eaten by this thing, this light, and I think for all the sadness, it was the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen. There wasn’t anything to to but watch, so we did. We held each other and stared. When it was over, we picked through the soggy ashes in silence, looking more for some clue, some meaning than anything else. Of course we didn’t find any.
Maybe that’s what I’m looking for again tonight. If it’s anywhere, it’s there, in the flames. Truth, hope, the face of God, the meaning of life, the collective memories of an entire species. Every war, every story, every night and day and night again, every love and hate and the entire expanse in between, every birth, every death, every moment, locked away behind a shield of light and heat,
and then, finally,