Illusory Reprieve

It had only been a minute
that I had sat in the yard
heart straining
chest aching
coughing the smoke from my lungs
wiping soot and tears away with a hand
too dirty and trembling to
make a difference.

It had only been a minute
that I had sat in the yard
wheezing relief
sobbing gratitude
for my escape
as flames licked at windowsills and
taunted me from the doorway through which
I’d just fled.

Only a minute, realizing
you were still in there,
until I turned around and walked
back into the burning building,
though all the nightmares that wake me
have always been of fire.