The Man In Flames

by Gary Mesick

He stopped for the Man in Flames
Waving frantically beside the road.
Other drivers slowed, out of curiosity,
Then continued on.  But
Even though he would be late for dinner,
He pulled over and got out of his car.

He heard a wail from within the blaze
Begging him for help.
So he wrapped the Man in his coat,
And together, they rolled on the ground.

As they lay smoldering in the dirt,
He asked the charred face what had happened.
“I tried to kill myself,” the Man said,
“Then I changed my mind.
Am I going to die?”
Not yet, he said.

He got home late.
Neither the paramedics,
Nor the police,
Nor his wife
Believed his story.

Three days later, he read in the paper
The Man in Flames had died.
On his way home from work that night,
He stopped for a drink.
He didn’t say anything
When his wife asked him why.

When a Man sets himself on fire,
If he doesn’t die of shock or infection,
He will most likely die from dehydration.
Without his skin, he is lost.
And even if you put out the fire,
You can never be sure
That you did the right thing,
Or whether events, once in motion,
Should have stayed that way.