The fire walkers

The unsuccessful fire walker
steps carefully, judging each footfall
in advance, hitching a shoulder just so
in case elevating a piece of
the body will make the foot weigh less,
stepping forward as fast as possible
so the white-hot coals will have
less time to sear flesh from bone
before starting on the other foot,
tense with reflex, toes gripping
not earth but fire, the screams rending the air
well before the pit’s end.

The successful fire walker
does not.

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