Ilium by Ayo Khensu-Ra

for Jenna

When the fires went up on the last day,
the embers flew into the sky, crackled
like the stars that were no longer there.

Words went into the flames
lives, records, whole stories
consumed in the heat of change —

they fueled our endings, threw
up the hot air that stirred our sails;
they were funerary offers to a dead world.

When did it start? When they left us?
Now we leave each other
and I stand alone with strangers

on the last beach, sand on the edge of some hell.
We will leave in the black ships lost out
in the darkness, riding at anchor.

I hold the jar against my body,
the glass warming almost as if
it has already been touched

by the flames
the paper charring inside
gasping out its last light before falling to ash.
I unscrew the lid, put the jar down,

tie the packet of papers to the smooth stone
I hold in my pocket.
In firelight

I glance again at the words,
the black ink, all the things
I can remember, all of me,

all of us. I toss it toward the fire
and soon it is gone and
all the world is doomed.

I turn and walk in the sand,
not sure I want to sleep,
not sure I want to wake.

The sky is black.

Ayo Khensu-Ra’s Ilium will be published in our Spring 2013 issue.

Copyright © Ayo Khensu-Ra

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