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Experiments in Reduction

We never used our fireplace
until Hurricane Sandy
snapped the power lines.

Heavy rain and wind
whipped around
our dark house

as the night grew colder.
Our flashlights,
the steamy breath of ghosts

in the dead of winter.
My father’s match
struck a stack

of miniature ebony logs
and turned them alight
like the bright orange

wings of a monarch butterfly,
the dark body of the room
made thicker.

Over the flame, we boiled water
and cooled it just long enough to
soak our feet—

calm ripples and soft circling
soothing us
as the night wind raged.

The house stayed
black, but I memorized
how many steps

the stairway held,
the exact height of each step.

Sabrina Guo
Sabrina Guo, 13
Oyster Bay, NY

Caitlin Goh
Caitlin Goh, 13 Dallas, TX