striking a match in an empty house

by Billy Howell-Sinnard
The Waters
First Place, July 2022
Judged by R.T. Castleberry

the sizzle and flare like a dud firecracker
the stick burns down
to bare fingers
not wanting to let go but letting go

too hot too short too useless
strike another and another
and another
until the pilot light stays lit

nothing to see in the dark
in the vacant rooms
the cold
like a heavy blanket

the air ringing
like a phone
covered by a pillow
ringing in a cave

nowhere to lie down
the smell of a cellar
of an old woman
who never left

I like the stark quality of this poem, the darkness of its sorrow, the repetition, like the thoughts we repeat to ourselves after someone has left. --R.T. Castleberry