It was not snow but pure ash
in the afterwhite of the sunyolk of the Tsar Bomba.
The people were gone, fast and deleted.
I walked in the supreme quiet.
The screams were inhaled by the amanhecer.
The troubles were simplified in the total blizzard.
I did see, by the fountain, two statues of powder,
arms upraised, mouths agape, eyes broken shields.
I did see, in the negative sky, one car aloft,
broken into pixels, black flame, nothing.
A thought could stir the radioactive down.
It was then I saw the sandhill crane,
losing dust as it flew the dust, as it fought
the morning of tense gravities and ovoid storm.
The beat of wings like footsteps in pulverized chalk.
Its red eyes were imagistic echoes of the world eater.
In its claws was the orphic egg, the black serpent
a nascent ladder round the paleblue shell.
I walked beneath the halved arch.
I passed the blank hydrant, the child sarcophagus.
It was then I saw the lamassu in the flaking street.
It stayed like a deer. It watched me. It made no track.
It was mute and observant in this gargantuan tomb.
The iris was black and in the wings an iridescent effect.
No cloud from its mouth, the hoofs wet, oiled.
It began to pulse and shudder and the eyes flared.
In the brief night of a blink it found exit.
I was alone again in the magnificence.
I saw but would not touch a grapefruit,
blinding in the soft absence, a solar extract.
This was a razor in the intestines and I passed it,
I refused to look back at it.
As I walked the drifts of a long arcade I saw the burning ones.
They were made of a separate matter.
Their wings were solid liquidity and mesmeric.
Their song was a song remembered.
It was a concentrated language frequency
and a red thread through the spheric zone of my life.
They were the most real in my accumulation of real.
The one hand was somewhere at hand.
The wheel of eyes was coming and it had arrived
and it had seen all and none and it had left.
The burning ones broke the bounds of movement,
they were in constant motion but did not blur,
appearing, flickering, behind my eyes, before them.
They rotated with bizarre circumference.
Their wings were the last vestige of the fire color.
Their eyes were mirrors and numbers and white diagram.
The holy song intensified until it vanished them.
I realized I was not cold and let go.
In this destitute womb and in this realm of gossamer
I was beginning to master my pace and
to warm in the glow without heat.
I was beginning to be blind and to see
that I was the new and fatal king,
the terminal and fading regent,
hovering between the walls of life and death
in the bounteous turning of the clock of law,
in the white shadow of the imminent throne.
Michael Borth is a writer and musician from the Hudson Valley. His work has been published in Carrier Pigeon, The Write Launch, and Expat Press, and is forthcoming in Fence.