Fire Creeps In

It occurred to me Monday evening, while preparing to hit the publish button on the poem I had composed, that I often write about fire– in my poetry for certain and now, in my novel, I’ve burned down the cafe. And I suppose fire creeps into a lot of writing. It provides metaphors for all sorts of things: love, lust, war, creativity, warmth, cleansing, refining, life, death, destruction, rebirth…

I felt low that evening, as is sometimes the case after a long day. I’d begun the next chapter of the book, feeling unsatisfied with the way I’d left the previous one. The poem arose from that I think. But as I prepared my dreary little post, I reflected on why fire always seems to creep into MY writing. My approach is mostly from the death, destruction and possibly the cleansing perspectives of fire, rarely from love, lust and passion. And while I hate to psychoanalyze myself, because my mind is a messy, cluttered place these days, I couldn’t help but wonder….

I lost my paternal grandfather in a fire. My father was twenty years my mother’s senior when they married. He at fifty-five, she at thirty-five. My paternal grandparents were already in their eighties when I was born. Grandma Jennings died when I was three and I barely remember her. But Grandpa lived for a few years more. I had a lot more contact with him as a child. And as a result my memories are a lot clearer.

I was six years old when it happened.

Grandpa liked his cigars. He left one smoldering next to his favorite chair one Sunday evening before going up to bed. He must have thought it was safely stored in the ashtray but it wasn’t. The stub of the cigar either rolled or he carelessly dropped it right on the arm of the old upholstered chair. It smoldered. It consumed. It filled the house with smoke. It wasn’t a conflagration, it was a charcoal pit. When, in the light of day, the neighbors realized what was happening and called the fire department, it was too late. But Grandpa had known something was wrong. He had made it back downstairs in the smoke. They found him on the threshold of the front door in his pajamas and dressing gown. A few more steps and he would have been free.

That is the kind of information that a six year old girl most probably should have been sheltered from. But I wasn’t. I should fear fire. I should have a morbid dread of it. But I don’t. Instead, it creeps into almost everything I write.


52 thoughts on “Fire Creeps In

      1. Sometimes you aren’t even aware of what you’re drawing on. I hadn’t thought about my grandfather in a long time. Just a lightbulb going off in the fog the other night. I couldn’t help but see the underlying connection.

        Liked by 1 person

      1. Some of them are really, really old, too. I used to follow a blogger, who has since disappeared, who used to post about the origins of some of those old wive’s tales and funny expressions.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. My FIL has a million of ’em. My favorite is in reference to getting my boys to do something, when they were little and wild: “Like putting butter up a bobcats ass”. Wtf? Who comes up with that? 😃

        Liked by 1 person

  1. Definitely something you should have been shielded from, I agree. Such an insightful writing, Meg, and very personal share. Thank you for doing so. 💜 I can understand your fascination with it, on many levels.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I agree with all the others about that being too much information for you at such a young age. Something else strikes me though – how events of our childhood, both happy and tragic, shape our adult psyches. Fascinating food for thought about what makes us tick.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. My dear friend, the fact that you are writing about it shows how affected you are. I’ve always felt that there are things that show-up in our behaviors, opinions, thoughts, feelings that our past has somehow impacted. I think this bit of exposure you have written is profound, deep and a bit chilling to the skin. But it’s raw, real and so authentic.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, T. It’s such a long ago memory that I didn’t readily make the connection. My young mind should not have been exposed to the details, of that I am sure. It makes me realize how deep we draw when we write, without even conscious thought.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. As many have said, yes, that’s way too much information for a six-year-old. I am currently keeping some things from my kids (at least for now) and they’re 12 and 9… I can’t imagine knowing these details at 6. Sorry you were not shielded from such things.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I am sorry to hear about your tragedy. Six years old is an impressionable time. Kids process information and memories in unique ways, and writers process and deal with life through their writing, often indirectly. Stories from survivors had shaped the themes of my first novel.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Ah, a fellow self-analyser. As far as being shielded from stuff like this when we were younger, if you were anything like me in that area as well, not a whole lot got past me, I heard and saw it all even when they thought I wasn’t listening or looking.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. OH! Absolutely true. Plus I was an only child, no siblings to distract me. My mother was a ‘fear based’ teacher – “see what happens when you’re careless with fire?” It’s a wonder I’m not afraid of everything!

      Liked by 1 person

What's on your mind?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.