The days I was on fire it never rained.
I turned to smoke, spread myself
across the valley. Smothering people,
stinging their eyes, I regretted
what I had become. Soon, I spread
out so far I had disintegrated.
I woke as a boy again, playing with matches.
I struck one after another, seeking
a spark. Each time I could formulate
warmth, a storm charged over
the horizon. I learned how to freeze
to death, watched my skin shine blue.
My breath left my body without
a letter home. Waking the next day,
the sun didn't wait. It corralled me
with flames. It told me to become ashes.
Donald Illich has published work in The Iowa Review, Nimrod, LIT, Sixth Finch, and other journals. He's been nominated for the Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net. He lives in Maryland, where he works as a technical writer.