Final Things

Steep waves and straining muscles hold back my craft. Dover’s White Cliffs crumble into the Channel like chalk on slate, brushed aside into dust, drenched in saltwater, making paste as strong as mortar, when it bolsters the guts of bricks. White refracts purity of heart into all things needful: herbs and spices to prepare the body, cold on stone, rigid as stone, rapt as the mind in ek-stasis, singly focused on the hereafter. England kisses France goodbye, casts yellow yields onto screens of green. Kent’s Elysian Fields convert to mythic lawns that blanket beehive tombs. Pagan queens lie in wait for lower gods to erect their thrones. Eclectic Ladyland welcomes their charge. Gauls gawk as Romans plant tarnished ruins in Provence. Romance languages flourish in warmer climes. North of Dover, Anglo-Saxon tongues trick spirit into flesh: great, guttural grunts of desire. Preservation in peat beats the mortal dread of nothingness. Beasts roam the edge of dark kingdoms underground. Hades lights up brimstone to roast the corpses of the fallen before storing them on ice. Chills trickle down my body; sweat soaks through my cloak.

On land, I hail a four-horse carriage to carry me past England’s runes into the golden hues of evening, twilight gaining on our flight. Darkness falls like an ill-fitting mask; sight wraps around its single opening. Only Impressionistic colors and fractured landscapes. What is to come at time’s end cannot be charted in time. What obliterates life cannot sketch its final outline. Bodies quiver like symbols in an arcane poem. Read once, the message seems muddled. Read twice, a warm light leaps from the page. Mayan skulls in bas relief. Hieroglyphs sans pointed heads. The beginning beams through the end. Grasses bend in a breeze to urgently open eyes. Whirlwind or purring breath makes no difference. We must surf the waves of now, diving when the present wipes out on shore. There, brute basalt barriers block our path. We climb them to spy Elysium again, past the cityscape of Bath. French dictionaries cradle our heads. The Odyssey guides our path. Great berms belly-up to the dead. Lyres repeat Orpheus’ song.

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