Questions for an Arsonist of Self

Arrhyth­mia of the happy home end­ing in ‘68
with Jan Palach, who self-ignited in Wencelas

Square, then stum­bled down the Soviet steps.
He was 21, at the time. Did it hurt, the fire?

My mind was protest­ing the sec­ond occu­pa­tion of
my mother: my body, being eaten alive by flames.

The Czechs clutched the mor­tal wound of actual
sac­ri­fice to their chests, eat­ing goulash listlessly.

What do you remem­ber? Before the sin­gu­lar
death, the pact of sui­cide, smashed.
Do you

regret your life? Do you dream? Runoff of lava,
entire cities, razed.
Did the fire hurt? Like hell.

What is the pur­pose of life? To obey fate, like
the autumn leaves, which, before falling, burn.

Vir­ginia Konchan’s fic­tion, poetry and reviews have recently appeared or are forth­com­ing in The New Repub­lic, Amer­i­can Poetry Jour­nal, the Col­orado Review, Jacket Mag­a­zine, Phoebe, and the Mid-American Review, among oth­ers, and she cur­rently serves as the fic­tion edi­tor of Whiskey Island Mag­a­zine.