David Lewis Paget

(22.11.1944 / Nottingham, England/live in Australia)

Reprise Of The Fire Dweller

The toddler sat in the high chair,
And stared at his tiny hands,
He wondered, where had they come from,
And his name, they said, was Hans,
He seemed to recall another place
Where he’d lived, so long ago,
Before he was part of the human race
Though the words, he didn’t know.

His body felt like an alien
It was hard to make it work,
His legs and his feet were clumsy, and
He’d only just learnt to walk,
He found that his hands could pick up things
He could drop them, or could throw,
And watch the reaction of bigger things
When they’d shout, or tell him ‘No! ’

They both were bigger and stronger
But the biggest one was rough,
He’d lift him out of his high chair, and
His voice was deep and gruff,
The other was soft and caring and
Had fed him at the breast,
Would carry him round and cuddle him
But the voice was shrill, at best.

Two spirits sat on his shoulders that
He didn’t know that he had,
One kept muttering, ‘You be good! ’
The other said, ‘Be bad! ’
‘Don’t listen to him, he’s always grim, ’
Said the good one on the right,
The other had said, ‘Remember me?
He’ll make you feel uptight! ’

He vaguely remembered the darker one
From the place that he’d always been,
And thoughts went fluttering through his mind,
Like scenes in a distant dream,
He knew, as a thrill spilled over him
That the good one made him sad,
And he couldn’t listen to both at once
But the dark one made him glad.

He’d watch as the bigs lit cigarettes
And the room filled up with smoke,
The haze had returned to comfort him
Though once in a while, he’d choke.
He’d stare and stare at the cigarettes
Intent on that tiny glow,
For it lit a spark in his memory
And he suddenly thought, ‘I know! ’

One night while the bigs were fast asleep
He crawled on out of his cot,
Went for the box of matches that
He’d seen them use, a lot.
His tiny fingers had struck a match
And he sat and watched the flame,
As the darker one on his shoulder said,
‘We’re going to play a game! ’

He struck a match for the curtains, and
He struck a match for the couch,
He then set fire to the tablecloth
And burnt his thumb, said ‘Ouch! ’
An ancient memory stirred within
That would make his face perspire,
Caught in the middle of Dresden once,
And sat in a lake of fire.

The big ones woke, began to choke
And rushed on out to their fate,
They tried to rescue the baby Hans
But for all of them, too late!
He sat and chuckled within the flames
Felt nothing inside his pyre,
The dark one said, ‘So much for games,
You’ve had your play in the fire! ’

Submitted: Saturday, August 17, 2013
Edited: Wednesday, August 21, 2013

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Poet's Notes about The Poem

18 August 2013

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