Fire in Enfield

Most days
the barn stands
across the street
from the washette,
high empty
windows staring into space
of another century.

Today, the barn’s
on fire. People
roused from
the sleeping tenement
stand shyly among
their valuables:
a vacuum

cleaner, somebody’s golden
reclining chair,
blank TV’s.
Hope it don’t
burn is
in their eyes.
Everybody here watches

water
from two hoses
unravel into the fire
like string.
The flames
do not hurry.
They belong here,

what the fat
man, tattoo blossoming
on his arm,
perhaps knows.
The great
old roof
is open;

flames
take the air
like sails.
Skinny kids
watch the barn
sink slowly
into the earth.

-Wesley McNair