Brit St.Clair


The First Cooking Accident

Burn units in Afghan hospitals
are filling, as more and more women
set themselves on fire.

Two are interviewed,
their downcast dark eyes like forgotten
charcoal, left to smolder.

One chose the flame
to escape daily abuse.
Her husband, unable to stand her skin
grilled like chicken,
sent her back to her family
but refuses divorce.

The other was eleven
when she torched her own body
the morning she was set to marry
an old man.
Her beauty not a source
of electric adolescent thrill
but still, a source of power.

Neither expresses regret,
preferring the comfort of shame.

The husbands are interviewed as well.
Cooking accident, they say,
mouths taut as barbed wire.

I picture these women’s faces
haloed in golden flames
like Allat, the Arab goddess
revered in ancient times
as Allah’s counterpart,

Her own light extinguished
in what must have been
the first cooking accident.

Brit St.Clair is a freelance writer (and closet creative writer) living in Atlanta, Georgia. So far her poetry has been published in the literary magazine Mountain Laurels.

(author retains copyright)