Phallic and Fallopia: An Epilogue
Your movements are watched:
They have already found you.
This is the only certainty,
and will remain the reason for poetry.
Prophets Alone in Hell, Book IV, 21-3.
All the back rubbing is over, and the poet’s hands
turn ethereal — their eyes begin to water the land
and run off into white space. They travel down
the Colorado, staring at its banks
for hours, hoping for stanza breaks that never unveil.
Their despair nearly complete: their condition —
terminal. The movement of water is sufficient for now,
its reflections the last place on earth
they can touch and find themselves
completely blameless. Lights appear as they float
near Las Vegas. At night and they huddle down
for warmth and secrecy. They intertwine like pieces
of polished driftwood, their flesh blemished and lined
with the tattoos of passages they must touch
to remember. The leader, the weakest one,
encourages silence, meditation, and the slow cadence
of the heartbeat to soothe. The latest attempt at religion —
a failure. Absent a god, they have no reason to praise.
When they stare into the water, they see nothing
but clouds that spell and ripple themselves to sleep.
Depression and loneliness begin to gnaw the strong
into silence — the lame accept death with smiles
and slow nods of agreement. The dead are pushed
off the rafts without words, the echoes
of each splash ripple up the canyon walls
and outward to space. In the vague recesses
of what is left for cognition, they want to be taken.
They lie down to fossilize and fixate on the sky,
hoping for a last glimpse of the shadows that circle
and descend to them, the only gods that deliver
anything close to salvation — a temporary presence
of physical comfort, a moment of cool air —
an absence that cannot be named.