Uncle Pig


In the spring, Uncle Pig burned leaves, while the ground was still damp and fire was relatively safe. Never in the fall, when the autumn leaves would burn crisp and fast, like when he was a boy and he and his cousins experimented with a soft dry patch out back that rose on a light breeze like a breath from a dying man, up and out into some destination that they hoped would remain unknown. It became known altogether too fast, a short jump from their own 5 acres to the center of town and then down to the river, where thank god it put itself out. That incident was long out of public memory until it happened again, some 50 years later.

Uncle Pig did not get re-elected to village council that year, on account of the fire, and in fact his picture was eventually removed from the Town Hall offices, where every elected official was hanging, except for the dog catcher who was found to have sold many missing dogs to a cosmetics research lab, and now Uncle Pig, who tried not once but repeatedly to burn the village down to the ground. This burning desire was eventually found to be related to a small but powerful tumor in the right temporal lobe that convinced Uncle Pig that the only truly cleansing substance on earth is fire. Fire leaves nothing but sterile ash in its wake, he told his attorney, at the trial where he was not allowed to testify. For his entire 73 years, he woke every morning, lit the fire, made the coffee, and got to work. Every spring, he burned leaves in the recommended manner, until the year when he lit the fire in October, to purify, to sanctify, to leave a pile of ashes where everything he used to know could be carried away, lightly, on the wind.

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