Rosemary and Gasoline
by Nathanael O'Reilly


As my drunk friend
pours fuel onto the barbecue,
the flame leaps up
into the can and he turns
to his right, flinging gasoline
across the backyard
towards the hedge of rosemary.

Streaks of flame arc out
through the darkness
landing in swathes on the lawn.

Beer in hand, I dash
across the grass, stomping
out flames with my boots.
Turning, I slip on the gas
and land on my back,
sliding towards the fence.

Regaining my feet, I hear
friends yelling, You’re on fire!
A lesson from long ago
kicks in and I dive-roll,
tumbling several times
before coming to rest,
see one of the wives
aiming the garden hose
while another turns the faucet.

Somehow unscathed,
I gratefully accept another beer,
smell gasoline and rosemary
in the suburban summer air
and listen to eyewitness accounts
of myself aflame, wishing
someone had captured the moment.







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