Last words 1666 & Talking to tourists
[ poetry - may 08 ]
Last words, 1666
The first casualty of the London Fire was of a maid in the household of Thomas Farynor, baker to King Charles 11 - in whose house the fire began.
Look at these nails. Black creeping
from the tips in, trailing soot
tendrils, pale fingers gone gray
and hot. Bloated. This is not how
I remember them. They were strong. They learned
to kneed and baste, roll breads, pastries, (play
pat-a-cake). I can smell the flours now -
millet, malt, bulgar, oat - a wretched
vulgar stench of rotting flesh and sugar
glaze. The oak staircase has gone
aflame. They told me to climb through the casement,
scale the thatch like a common thief.
as fast as you can
I will not leave. When they learn
to make paper from ash, the headlines will read
'Baker's maid afraid to climb.' They do not see
these fingers, hands, the creeping black cradling
my arms. They do not know what they were meant to rock,
hear your heartbeat fading next to mine.
roll it pat it and mark it with B
Talking to tourists
We'll keep our tops on, thank you,
giving knowing grins as if we would
(when we were older) maybe. If you asked us
yesterday, what was in these mausoleums, you'd hear
yesterday tales of pale immortals, teeth trickling
blood and bourbon, the un-dead, unburied. Underground
there's nothing. We'd wrap ourselves in camp-smoke
and mosquitos. But today - A sulfur stained Gomorrah?
All our finger-sifted ash runs corse and warm,
grandmothers choke back sea-water
tears. Watch the rivulets of waste by your wheels
and wonder 'Did we drink this way before?'
What lies there: legends of your own retelling,
salt statues and blues and mildew, ocean-slime,
But wait! A creeping green - these the rumors of rebirth.
The un-dead newly paled and washed out with the tide.