Silently she broke down the bedding, picking
up corners of the fitted sheet to tie
them together, the lace pillowcases, yellowed
top sheet, and flowered comforter balled up
inside. The once white fabric dragged
across the stained wood floor, down
the muddy front steps, absorbing
clumps of grass and dirt into fibers
as she hauled it across the summer
lawn and into the dirt driveway.
I stood, empty and invisible, while
she drizzled gasoline and lit a match.
As the flames caught hold, consuming
the sheets, I couldn’t help but study
the curling of the fabric wilting into piles
of black ash scorching the earth underneath.
I thought back to the controlled fires
my father ignited, routine slash and burns
reducing the excess while preventing catastrophe,
bringing up new soil fertile for germination, a process
I could not understand until I watched my mother burn
sheets holding my father’s infidelity.