We shake the dirt and soot
out of our hair and clothes,
our feet stay stained with mud and ashes;
the ruination a magnificently gaudy sprawl.
Who let the light touch fire, touch heart
and spread across the floor
to begin licking at sensitivities long abandoned?
Fantasies that tickled until they burned,
leaving only blackened bones and teeth remaining.
Accusing distal phalanges
still pointing out the gaps in our logic
with unnerving accuracy.
The question is drawn out,
tentatively as a sharp knife.
“What happened to us?”
It catches us exposed, exhausted.
We shudder in silence,
each unwilling to admit they know;
unable to speak the words.
Our eyes are drawn to another grim horizon,
bloated with vain, broken promises.
Succor and sanctuary?
We wind between jagged, twisted columns,
vestiges of our lost empire
obscured by smoke and blood.
Treaties and accords,
recorded in languages no longer read or spoken.
Oddly, our tongues have long lost the taste
for fair speech and cultured exchanges.
The words left for us are raw,
visceral and violent.
Barking, sharp staccato assaults
meant to wither when they do not whine.
Abandoned are our graceful ministrations,
for coarse bodies that couple in ragged rhythms.
Why scintillate with feather touches,
if the next breath holds a razor blade
hidden between the teeth?
Even our love is poison.
Everything left living is infected,
rendered inglorious in the dull, grey twilight.
Dawn, or dusk, or noon,
it doesn’t matter.
You lift your head and look at me,
for the first time in this freshly forsaken age.
Your eyes reflect some strange light that I don’t recognize.
“We will recover.”
I don’t even see your lips move,
but the words are the first I have understood in a long time.
We share one quick embrace,
before we start clearing the black, broken ground before us.
This apocalypse is our home,
it is where we came from.
HG – 2015