We laid nine hundred feet of hose
then another hundred and a half.
About a ton of hose.
But we all knew
we were too late.
There was no tent
just folding chairs
and bleachers blazing
like nobody's business.
Too hot to get close.
See, they dip
their chairs in paint
and hang them up to dry,
so as the years pass
they're adding another layer of paint
eager to burn.
But that's not half the problem
of the tent itself.
To keep the rain out
they coat the canvas
with paraffin mixed with gasoline,
laid on good and thick with stiff brooms.
Oh, that waterproofs it all right—
been doing it that way for years—
but what does it give you?
One huge candle
just waiting for a light.From the Hardcover edition.
Excerpted from Worlds Afire by Paul B. Janeczko. Copyright © 2004 by Paul B. Janeczko. Excerpted by permission of Candlewick, a division of Random House LLC. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.