R.S.V.P., by Jeanne Marie Beaumont

The road out front is all torn up and has remained that way for a long time. One day they
tractor-pulled the trunk of a fallen tree, its roots undone by the doings. Saw crews came in
and buzzed for days like a disturbed hive. I could not save the flowers. Pyramids of pipe plastic
appeared overnight. Rats, unsettled, bounced across the lawns, appalling the cats.
All's ditches, trenches, ruts and pits. A week before the phones went dead, the sand trucks
jilted their loads, shovels clanged, someone shouted Ho! ho! ho! like an unjollied Santa. Yellow
cones mark off the area like quarantine. Red lights flash night and day. Goodness! The whole
country detours around us. Each morning a colony of hardhats I observe from my upstairs window,
handkerchief held to my nose, my ears stoppered with cotton and wax. Today, they were
burning debris and circled the fire prodding like scouts.  I regret I cannot make the ceremony,
but clearly this is a major public project with extensive resources at its disposal and certain
to benefit enormous numbers. It must be.  I pray the food will last and look forward to vast
and permanent improvement.

Burning of the Three Fires, by Jeanne Marie Beaumont

(June 30, France)

i

I set the cookbook on fire
by holding it close to the
reading lamp

ii

I began the reading lamp fire
by holding it close
to romance

iii

I lit the romance by
holding it
close to the cookbook