Metaphors for Burning

your lungs are filled with smoke and ash
the flames around you lick your flesh
and climb the curtains like devilish kittens

but when you reach your fingers out
and grasp your friend’s sleeve
and you gasp at her, you’re choking
she just pats you on the back
and tells you to breathe.

but the flames that bite your fingers back
are climbing into your mouth,
down the ladder of your throat,
and filling your belly.
they have eaten all of the oxygen in the atmosphere
and now they are coming for you.

give me your hand back, she tells you
but when you offer it to her
she does not try to extinguish the flames.
she cups your hand with hers
and sighs, satisfied, because–she tells you–
she was so cold.

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