Trataka by Harmony Button

A fire in the forest
loves the color
orange, loves the
smoke off damp receipts
and dewy wood. At home,
domesticated flames
wish they could still remember
the smell of the mulch and earth,
the splash of cold creek water
on their ash and ember. The burner
on the stove still whines
to the tea kettle – all I wanted
was a good matchstick, maybe
a few logs. I’ve always
hoped to travel
. Poor
little gas-pipe genie –
there and gone without a wisp
of smoke or thankfulness. Make me
pasta! Grant my wish! All fire
knows it still exists
beyond the flame – all fire
still believes in alchemy.
Watch it in the deep stone pit: watch
it slouch and readjust, a comfortable
old man on his old couch. I think
this and I look at you and
say please remember to burn me
when I die, plant me
with some kind of tree and tell my
people to please eat my fruit
. And you,
because you love me, stoke
the flames and tell me you would make
the most delicious peaches


“Dancing Flames” image by Flickr user Capture Queen

2013-03-11 14.27.26Harmony Button is a contributing editor at Paper Tape Magazine as well as the English Department Chair and incoming Academic Dean at the Waterford School in Utah. Her work has been nominated for Pushcart and Best of the Web awards, and has appeared in journals such as Colorado Review, Chicago Quarterly, Southwestern American Lit, Cobalt, Rock & Sling, Tupelo and Drafthorse. Find links to other works at, or follow her education blog at