A Whirling Worked In

by Dustin Pearson

I swallowed a firestorm
walking through Hell. I’d spent
so much time
wandering the flames
my skull’s sharp lines
protruded. My jaw
dislodged itself,
made an oval
at a slant
for that whirling ball
of fire to work in.
The dark inside
writhed around it,
each curly sliver folded
in favor of that
violent light.
That moment
I realized I hated
my brother had become
the thing to find,
that perhaps
the storm was one
I conjured
to survive his finding,
and that
if I ever found him,
ever allowed myself
one word
to that occasion,
that violence
might be all
I had left
to give him.

Dustin Pearson is the author of Millennial Roost (C&R Press, 2018) and A Family Is a House (C&R Press, 2019). He is a McKnight Doctoral Fellow in Creative Writing at Florida State University. The recipient of fellowships from Cave Canem, the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, the Virginia G. Piper Center for Creative Writing, and The Anderson Center at Tower View, Pearson has served as the editor of Hayden’s Ferry Review and a Director of the Clemson Literary Festival. He won the Academy of American Poets Katharine C. Turner Prize and John Mackay Graduate Award and holds an MFA from Arizona State University. His work appears in Blackbird, Vinyl Poetry, Bennington Review, TriQuarterly, [PANK], Fjords Review, and elsewhere.

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