What He Said to Her

The earthquake of ’89:
those fifteen seconds in San Francisco.
An apartment collapsed
on a couple in the Marina.

They pulled him out
but she was pinned.
The glass was cutting her,
the fire was too close.

The firemen pulled him out,
that terrible lacuna,
the moment they knew it was too late,
how he climbed back in,
briefly spoke.
What he said to her.

I have come to think
something stopped then,
the world having
exhausted its cruelty.

Hoisted up again, he crawled
from the drywall,
the splintered wood,
cabinets she could never stand.

He grabbed a hand,
found an living sleeve;
in the park,
a long animal silence.

I fill the kettle.
It clanks against the ring.
I miss this remembered life,
where no-one wakes in fire.