We were lost and would have never known,
the trees bleeding sap like butchered animals,
a sticky feversweat pouring golden
and astringent as though leaking sunlight.
It was panic. We know that now.
The world giving itself up to us before
tearing us apart. Not mercy but warning.
Just as we understand that the soil turning
to acid was a farewell of sorts, the land
humming its earthquake timbre deep
below as the dust storms made spirals
along the freeways. Everything still
about us, allegory for our own suffering.
We were the ones to devise mercy, the notion
of intent. Look at us now with our bludgeoned
hands held like empty weapons to the stars.
At the bottom of the world rampant gorse
threatens the gorge’s failing light, a last
inhale of honey and tea tree. A windrow
of stoic poplars stands in an emptied field.
Below in the riverbed, something small enough
to be a child rises from the water, pale
and clayed with sulphur, arms outstretched
as though nailed to the sky.