Black Candles

Rumor has it, the story

went like this...

 

back in the '60s, baby Isaac

had just turned three,

waving the classified section 

of a discarded newspaper 

like a flag, but giggling

way too close to the heater. 

 

That's all it takes

to turn ordinary days into tragedy.

Heater met paper; 

paper, overheated, touched his shirt;

shirt mindlessly took in the flames

that liked his flesh, and everything

happened faster than his mother 

could cry. 

 

Mamma was a teen

and can still remember

the novenas, the nurses exiting his room 

with more wrinkles around the eyes.

It seemed to last forever until

doctors finally called him, the tiny body

covered in third degree burns, a miracle.

He even learned

to laugh again as family allowed

him to forget the trauma

until curiosity asked about 

the wrinkled scars years later. 

 

Little rumors and snapshots 

from that phase still creep into

family stories. Like the way 

my grandmother answered

the door as soon she spotted,

from the window,

a frantic mother carrying a smoldering

bundle down the road towards her. 

Like the way everyone seemed

to grab rosaries at once

to quietly wait with a priest 

who looked for the signal to perform

the final ritual (Sigh of relief

as he left for good).

 

Or--remember, rumors spread like fire--

how everyone whispered whenever 

Mamma's aunt left the room, wondering if it was

true: if a cousin really did find black candles

in the aunt’s dresser drawer that same morning, 

if Isaac was still an accident, and no excuse

for why he got in the way of an intended target.

 

(But who was supposed to get the Devil's luck?

 Decades never found the truth).

lifememorypast

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