Dear ones who are still alive, I fear we may have overthought
things. It is not always a war between celebration and lament.
Now we know death is circuitous, not just a matter of hiding
in the dark, or under a bed, not even a slingshot for our loved
ones to carry, it changes nothing. Ask me to build a wall
and I will build it straight. When the end came, were you
watching TV or picnicking in a field with friends? Was the tablecloth
white, did you stay silent or fight? I hope by now you’ve given up
the fur coat, the frequent flyer miles. In the hours of waiting,
I heard a legend about a woman who was carried off by winds,
a love ballet between her and the gods, which involved only minor
mutilations. How I long to be a legend. To stand at the dock
and stare at this or that creature who survived. Examine
its nest, marvel at a tusk that can rake the sea floor for food.
Hope is a noose around my neck. I have traded in my rollerblades
for a quill. Here is the boat, the journey, the camp. If we want
to arrive we must push someone off the side. It is impossible
to feel benign. How many refugees does it take to build
a mansion? I ask again, shall we wait or run?
Here is winter, the dense pack ice. Touch it. It is a reminder
of our devastation. A kind of worship, an incantation.
Forthcoming in A God at the Door (Bloodaxe Books, 2021)