She attends a candle party—
“Made in America,
the last affordable luxury,”
the pamphlet says. Floaters,
tealights, dinner tapers, pillars,
and tinted, scented votives
that liquefy with each lighting
then, snuffed, harden into
what they were, but smaller.
The vendor presides with a wand, igniting.
The guest imagines seeing through
a window from the street
the gestures of the gathered acolytes,
circling round a flickering display.
You’d think it was a wiccan ritual—
but it’s a flaccid game meant
to dispel social unease. She succumbs,
buys a candle that she does not want.
Stopping for a fill-up, at the pumps she hears
two boys talk shop: “I’ll do it all—transmissions,
motors, brakes,” one says. “Three other Matts
already work there.” “Weird,” his buddy says.
She thinks these Matts are probably
offspring of all the Jennys at the party,
now writing checks for “Galaxy,”
a china orb, aglow within, that flings
refracted moon and stars against dark walls.
What if the candle party’s flames
escaped? Fused and exploded, fireballing
across quiet, intervening streets to feed
upon the fuel at this male bastion,
and set off such a conflagration
that tomorrow all the people of the town
would not know where they were
or where to go, exactly? Or
what if she did not go home?
She snuffs the thought,
hardened into what she was,