The arsonist could tell you every life
they shed in the fire—every one
since the first accelerant showed them
how to loosen their skin and slip out
before the neighbors noticed.
The arsonist could tell you that skin is a fleeting
condition—a brief molecular arrangement your body
tries on seven years at a time, a house you sometimes
live in. They could flick their lighter against their knuckles
and say, “The trick to dealing in fire is to look entropy
in the eyes when you hold it.” Burning is a choice.
Choose to dismantle or not. Choose when to lay your
skin out like tomorrow’s clothes, when to return it to ash.
A house is no different than skin and the arsonist is molting
into a body unbounded.
Whenever I imagine stepping out of my skin, of shrugging
off a year, seven years, I am still wearing skin, just thinner—
rice paper incarnadine. I am a husk peeled back to grow again
while the arsonist’s fire licks the air at my forearms, bats its
eyelashes, tells me where to find it next time I come looking.