Saturday 18 June 2022

'A Poor Workman Blames His Tools' by Audrey Burges

It was a fire poker that had no business poking fires, the flames disrespecting its scabbard, the metal chipped and rusting to reveal a glimpse of blade beneath.

Once unblemished, it clunked from too many rough plunges into an old umbrella stand atop the hearth. The drip-drip-drip of wet silk dulled its carved filigree. The push-and-pull, hot-and-cold, crackling-dry and damp would soon crack it open wholly, extinguished by extremes.

The crumbling cabin formed a crucible. Survival forged new uses there next to the half-starved horse, the threadbare blankets, the swordsman splayed on the floorboards, cursing the cold. The dwindling heat hissed with snowflakes blowing down the chimney.

The sword thrust again into the fire. The motion is familiar, a vicious stabbing gesture that finds warmth, again and again, and pulls it away upon its retreat. Everything is familiar except the sound. Fire dies more quietly than a sword expects.

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