First we'd drag fallen branches to the pit,
leaving the dew scored. Then he'd fetch
the petrol can shaped like a bar of soap,
which he'd unscrew and slop a broken stream
over the scaffolding of birch and walnut.
A Christmas tree would flash and squeal.
Old fence posts smoked and blackened
like lit cigarettes. Instead of mercury
crisp packets shrivelled into putrid wax.
I'd stand as close as possible, eyes damp
with smoke, aware of his outline in the heat's
mirage, shimmering as if through water.
William Thompson is a PhD candidate in Creative Writing at the University of Bristol. Born in Cambridgeshire in 1991, his work has appeared in Wild Court, The Honest Ulsterman, Raceme, Lighthouse, Ink Sweat & Tears and The Best New British and Irish Poets 2019-21 (Eyewear).