I didn’t believe in you
           until I saw a palm tree burning
over the Atlantic Ocean.

Sitting on my grandfather’s porch in Arcachon,
watching the Bastille Day celebration
bloom              and                wither
in the dark,
I saw your face glowing in the palm fronds
as they faded into starlight and smoke.

It’s how I recognized you,
           twenty years later.
Standing in the beerlight, 
           singing Madonna to yourself.
You were waiting for a chance
to sink the eight ball.
Your beauty wreathed
in neon and cigarette smoke,
gleaming in the dark.

The first time we kissed,
I tasted salt water
           and fireworks on your lips.
Your face burned in my hands
like a dying star,
           and I wanted nothing more than
                      to be a ray of light
                                                          that could not escape your gravity.

The two of us, 
crushed together,
cinders drifting towards an event horizon.

That’s what gunpowder and sulfur
           on the sky over my grandfather’s home:

           An afterimage of love
           dissolving into the infinite.

ASHLEY NAFTULE is a writer & performer from Phoenix, AZ. He's been published in Vice, Phoenix New Times, Ghost City Press, The Hard Times, Rinky Dink Press, Under The Radar, The Outline, Four Chambers Press, and Occulum. He's a resident playwright and Associate Artistic Director at Space55 theatre.