once upon a time
the sun streaked below the clouds
of billowing coal dust and water vapor.
the buildings, brick and stone,
laid haphazard and close together
sat quiet tucked under the slowing chug of the chimneys from the factories nearby
marie could feel the rough brick, chipped and marked from years of use and
under her thin fingerprints
but just barely
the quiet click-clack-rustle of matchsticks
tucked in a tattered tunic
bounced off her knees with every step
until her weary feet bled through the holes in her shoes
an alley, darker still from the dim laterns only just lit,
beckoned marie forward
into the blanket of brick on either side
the brisk wind swept in from the street
as marie picked the pebbles from her heels
and gathered her matchsticks all in one hand
as the chimneys ground to trickles of grey
and the clouds crept in over steaming rooftops
sparse ghosts of breath fell from her mouth
"just one, there'll be enough to sell tomorrow."
the breeze swept up the golden flame.
"there's plenty left. just one more."
again the wind stole marie's fire
"just one more. there's just one more."