untitled by Vincent Mangano

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before I met him I flicked a lighter
down and down again on its mocking red button
and turned my hands into first degree burns
trying to light my citronellas. the wicks sat deep
at the bottom of unbearably tiny blue buckets, each
its own individual pinterest project from hell, specially
designed to cause me pain. I carried the candles in front
of my chest every day, miming funeral processions
and Catholic devotionals. I saw him,

a man
as lonesome and disregarded as a tree,
swelling out beside the stiff grasses that curved
around its form in the steady wind. I knew he had
what I needed, everything about him told me
to ask for a light. I swear to this day, he makes furnaces
with his words but the way their heat flows
is different, easy to miss even on the coldest day.
I showed him my candles every time he looked at me;
he couldn’t see them but I somehow managed
to get the job of lighting them done. His smile
lit the first candle, and the small talk we made
passed the swelling flame across the rest of them.
I ducked out of his way, eager for a quick exit,

the citrus smell
was slow to start, and by the time I made it back
to the porch, the countryside was already glowing
with silence, and the bug-eyed souls of summer
who have their own ways of making fire
were halfway through their nightly show. I spent
the whole summer on that porch, drinking up
every moment and imagining
how they all tasted to him. I dreamed
about bare chests nearly every night
and walked anywhere I could, and
not once did I stop thinking
about his flame, its colors
orange and blue dashing through me
effortlessly.

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