“Ring of Fire” by Johnny Cash


When I was a little girl, my dad played records to entertain me. The “Ring of Fire” 45 was pressed in red vinyl, which meant it was special. A game was invented that consisted of turning the living room into the inside of a volcano.  The cushions, pillows, and furniture were “safe” (rocks?), but touching the carpet or hardwood floor meant death or it meant being burned down, down, down and the flames went higher.  The opening of “Ring of Fire” meant the game was on. Molly and I danced, jumped from cushion to chair until the song was over. I surely burned to death a few times on the rug, came back to life, and jumped around some more as my dad laughed at his silly daughters. Once I said “But what is this song ABOUT?” My dad replied, “Well, what do you think?” Listening, I realized that it was not about jumping through flames. It was about love, hearts, and boys, about getting set on fire by a love, losing to that love, setting a guy on fire with love, and the beloved losing to love too. Oh but the fire went wild.  I replied: “This isn’t about fire, it’s about love!” I couldn’t articulate the words passion or romance, but I understood this feeling through the imagery. I paused: did I really want to keep jumping around to this thing that sounded consuming (to therefore allow my body to agree with its message)? But the pause was brief. I danced and I fell.

-Amy Lawless

11042966_10152621710977016_7547572462486955858_nAmy Lawless is the author of two books of poems including My Dead (Octopus Books, 2013).  Her third book Broadax is forthcoming from Octopus Books. An audio chapbook from Broadax is out on Black Cake Records.  She grew up in Boston and lives in Brooklyn.

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