Jul/Aug 2001  •   Poetry  •   Special Feature

The Fire, the Word, the Unfilled

by Bob Wolfkill

The Fire, the Word, the Unfilled

The revealing fire
bestows a certain
response: drawn or repelled

we accept its fate
as we receive those things freely

given, the mathematical laws
which render six
when two leave eight, or

the swan's slender question
curled around itself.

This is chemistry, the transformation
of one form to another—the espresso's
steam, the tear's
residue, light whispering across the field.

Jesus tells me which books to buy,
she says, but I read what I want

in the body's scars, the parallel lines
across my chest, which combined
spell pain and trust and years left

asunder, the cavity's desire to be filled
remitted without notice. But I am not afraid.