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Poem (The lump of coal my parents teased)

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Written by William Matthews

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 The lump of coal my parents teased
I'd find in my Christmas stocking
turned out each year to be an orange,
for I was their sunshine.
Now I have one C.
gave me, a dense node of sleeping fire.
I keep it where I read and write.
"You're on chummy terms with dread," it reminds me.
"You kiss ambivalence on both cheeks.
But if you close your heart to me ever I'll wreathe you in flames and convert you to energy.
" I don't know what C.
meant me to mind by her gift, but the sun returns unbidden.
Books get read and written.
My mother comes to visit.
My father's dead.
Love needs to be set alight again and again, and in thanks for tending it, will do its very best not to consume us.


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