I wait as many days as possible
before I start my work.
If it’s not a routine house fire,
the detectives go first,
take a few days,
almost long enough for the stench to disappear.
But not completely.
Once you smell it, you never forget.
They say the sense of smell
is the most discriminate.
I have no doubt.
The smudges don’t come off the walls,
soot and fabric bind there,
particularly if it’s nylon.
So does the skin.
There’s always a huge char on the floor.
They always end on the floor.
Once I saw one who rolled across
instead of bouncing off.
Sometimes they leave bounce marks,
but only once did I see a roll.
Had to be a roll.
After a few times, I realized
that simply washing isn’t enough.
You can’t just wash it off.