about the author

Linda Ardison’s work has appeared in Hawaii Pacific Review, Poet Lore, The Laurel Review, Louisiana Literature, Anglican Theological Review, and Vox Poetica, among others, as well as in the anthology Essential Love: Poems About Mothers and Fathers, Daughters and Sons. She is a first-place Short Fiction Award recipient from New Millennium Writings, a former winner of an Atlantic Monthly writing scholarship to the Bread Loaf School of English, where she subsequently attended the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, and winner of a fellowship grant from the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts. She worked as a consultant for twenty years in the Writing Center at York College of Pennsylvania. In addition to attending a number of writers conferences, she has studied with two past Poets Laureate, John Ciardi and William Meredith, as well as with Bill Brown and Robert Gorham Davis.

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Barn Fire  

Linda Ardison

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His was the other generation:
Coal oil lamps, hot kerosene
Poured over sugar in a teaspoon,
Hardening into candy for the coughs
That raked the tense household like
Fallen stars caught in the chest.
It burned the fever out with sweetness.

Inner conflagrations raged all winter;
Then he burned the barn down
To the naked ground that spring,
Observing how the tin roof twisted
Into black curls like his sister’s
Fresh-washed hair, and on the night
He died, the gate cried on its hinges,
Front steps creaked with clarity, a visitor.

Grandma announced, “It’s Papa,”
As they waited, waited, lamplight
Flickering their own ghosts
On the wall, oblivious to truth:
He’d been cooped up like some old coon,
Soundless and rabid, for the last ten years,
Inside the place where lunatics stared
Into space, dreaming of fire.

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