When he calls from the conference
and says he met her, after months
of email discussing their research,
I see the first whiff of smoke
rising out of the forest,
the one you have to be close to notice,
and think you could put out yourself
if the garden hose reached that far,
the first seconds of wondering
where the important papers are,
the photographs, the cat.

– Sarah Russell
First published in One Sentence Poems
For Poets United
Photo source


39 thoughts on “Colleague

    1. Thanks, John. I don’t very often get a poem only one sentence long. When I do, my favorite place to submit is One Sentence Poems. Sometimes their poems are only a few words. Sometimes they carry on for nearly a paragraph. But they’re always legitimately a single sentence. Fun to try.


  1. Fire! My aunt and uncle’s house burned to the ground many years ago, and they lost everything, including some photos that were precious to me. Now all I have is distant memories.


    1. Thanks, Donna. Not sure it’s a form, since they take sentences of all shapes and sizes. The only stipulation is that it has to be a single sentence with proper punctuation. They also don’t want semi-colons where a period should have been.


  2. I wonder many things about this piece, and I love how it engages my imagination. Could it be a tryst he is confessing, thus she burns what had become a lie. Did he meet a child he once had to give up? He had memories to show her, but did the photos survive the fire? Ah, I could go on. Thanks for your one sentence poetry spinning me into plot. 🙂


  3. Thanks, Al. I never plan these. But when I get a poem that’s a single sentence I always save it to submit to this venue. They’ve taken a couple and turned one down. How’s NaNo going??


  4. I love this. It feels like an ominous foreshadowing. Perhaps they are just colleagues and nothing more. Or perhaps the speaker should act to preserve their lives from the spark… the flame of something more.


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