A Synopsis of a National Geographic Article on Fire Investigation

The forensic fire expert
was matter-of-fact
in his responses to the interview
questions about how fires
are investigated.
The key, as with most things,
is to start
at the beginning;
to backtrack through destruction,
knowing by colors
and patterns and the amount
of damage,
how the fire burned — how hot,
which direction,
how fast — and from
where it came.
Once the point of origin
has been determined
you can concentrate
on cause: flammable liquids,
lighting strikes, curved
bottles in the sun, unattended
fires…the list is rather long.
Starting points and reasons
are his focus. He never
mentions ‘what’ is burned,
only the ‘how’ or the ‘why’.
I would imagine personalizing
the charred remains
of another’s life would
make the job unmanageable,
and the nightmares


Filed under Poetry, Poetry - Prompts

11 responses to “A Synopsis of a National Geographic Article on Fire Investigation

  1. Mark – you captured it very well. Used to be a fire fighter and did investigations. Thanks for sharing this tonight.

  2. So very, very true. I think they have to distance themselves a bit to make the job tolerable. Easier to depersonalize for mental health reasons…I can definitely see that.

  3. when i worked with the cops…my first dead body, my partner told me to look at it as a piece of evidence or you would surely go crazy…because you see too much…things others will never see…and never understand…you got that right

  4. Objectification has to enter in at times. I worked with death and dying most of my nursing career, and I saw it in action but I can’t say I was very accomplished at it. I managed it for awhile, when I was preparing the body for pick up–but they always remained persons for me. It’s a fine line to walk. This was well-written, Mark.

    Oh, and thanks so much for offering another earworm to me. Do you know how many are buzzing in my brain after all the comments?!

  5. Mark, this is excellent story-telling which takes the reader with you all the way. So many jobs are like that one, where it’s essential to remain objective not to go bonkers.

  6. yes – i think they cannot really allow themselves to be touched too personally… i find it amazing what an expert is able to find out by looking at the details… fascinating..

  7. This is so important… there is so much focus on what, and not the why.. maybe we all need to take a step back sometimes and ask the why… many parallels and that part of firefighting can be the most important… I admire this ways greatly… but I doubt I could do it.

  8. Your almost blank and simple tone underlines your message really well – a super interesting poem. k.

  9. This was something I’d not thought about before. Very good job of describing what is indescribably awful.

  10. What an intriguing way of writing this – the flat tone (to me) reflects how the science has to be dealt with by the professionals dealing with the aftermath.

Some of what I write is true, some is fiction; most is merely possibility.

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