Catie Rosemurgy
A Fire Is a Good Companion, She Said

It’s alive, it always changes, it needs tending, and the boy,

who had left several in several woods and had thought it his worst                    crime,


discovered that all this time he had actually been good. 

Gently, he moved in with her. First, he slept on the hay in the barn, 


like a frost, so as not to be asked to leave because he’d made the horse            hate him. 

Then he slept in the kitchen by the door, like one of the long,

         narrow guns


good people will sometimes keep. He killed rabbits and squirrels and              brought home 

the ones that hadn’t been rotting before he even shot them. She said

         a fire 


is a good companion, and the boy nodded. A wooden spoon or a

        sturdy wire 

is also a good companion, but neither of them thought so, and no one           should’ve


considered them strange, especially themselves, but they did.

One night they scarred the pine beam that had been cut and hung to               make the mantle. 


They wrote their names with the glowing end of the poker but then

pulled the wood down off the wall the next day. On the first polar night


they built a fire in the woods and fed it this part of their home. 

As they raked up pine needles and twigs, she said a fire 


grows best out of debris, just like a man. In no time at all, she said, 

it's ready to bring down the greatest building around.  

Found In Volume 44, No. 05
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Catie Rosemurgy
About the Author

Catie Rosemurgy’s books include The Stranger Manual (2010) and My Favorite Apocalypse (2001). She has won a Rona Jaffe Award for Emerging Female Artists and a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts. She teaches at the College of New Jersey.