Eric Pankey The Apprenticeship

In the end, what could he do? He liked to play with matches, to close the cover and strike, to watch the spark turn inward, crackle, then flare, sometimes straight up into a flame, other times and, only for an instant, into a helix that unspiraled into a fiery teardrop. Sometimes, the matches, soft with humidity, bent and tore and would not catch. He apprenticed himself to fire. Heraclitus says, All things are an exchange for fire and fire for all things. He braided fuses out of rags, knew the after-mark of each accelerant, held his palm open above the candle longer than was needed, read biographies of the great arsonists. Jesus says, I came to set fire to the world, and I wish it were already burning. Bob Dylan sings, You can play with fire, but you’ll get the bill.

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