Beware of gifts you mean to give away
but instead keep for yourself.

For instance, I had a mind
to give you the sound a fire makes.
I listened to lengths of apple-
branches burning, to juniper and broken

furniture consumed.
Held my ear

to the gas range, near
each blue crown of flames,
small as the four directions.
I even listened

to a lit candle—
its near-silence

the closest thing
to a sound I could share with you.

But this fire-sound can only
be called by what it isn’t:

cloth whipping
in the wind, the dead

whispering. I can sing you
an altered version,

Hand me the microphone.

Just as a circle of stones
keeps a fire from spreading,

we contain something
that spreads.