Chalcedony, a distant and unfriendly planet,
orbits an old-fashioned chartreuse sun
in an unsociable spiral galaxy.
It’s a centimeter or two away from earth
on a standard map of the universe,
In a café on the planet’s surface,
it’s Monday morning, neither late nor early,
and Manique, of humanoid appearance,
is sipping a humanoid coffee.
At a nearby table, a stranger dressed in clocks
is playing patience on a screen.
He addresses no-one in particular.
I am Kronos, demi-god of the temporal.
My fingers type your lives,
yet all your tears can’t find the backspace key.
It’s a common Chalcedonian custom to speak
frequently and at random, although the wise are
often silent or asleep, but now
the cacophony fades and all is quiet.
Everyone talks and no-one listens.
I’ve pressed pause and time has stopped,
a special effect.
He turns to his colleague Anubis.
I’m supposed to be inexorable, continuous, yet my desire
is a momentary peace.
Would you lend a hand, Anu? We’ll stack
the bodies in a corner and invite the other gods
for a trivia night.
Distracted by an itch, the lithe Anubis
is paying scant attention.
He scratches a furry ear.
I never wanted to personify death. I saw myself
as more of a Chalcedonian’s best friend.
Outside the windows, the cityscape dissolves
in clouds of dust. Floccules form
and aggregate to birds that swoop and soar.
A whispering stranger beside Manique
comments on the scene.
Although winged concrete seems unlikely,
on days like these it’s better to pretend
and not to question, not to disavow
the facts of fantasy.
Manique is puzzled.
Even fantasy has rules. We’re not deities,
yet we can speak.
Have you forgotten?
Though their preference is yelling,
Chalcedonians are telepathic.
Outside, everything is birds,
even the odd dodo.
The stranger sips her coffee
This planet’s an aberration
that soon enough will fly away.
I expect it’s for the best.
Anubis, ancient Egypt’s canine god of the afterlife; Fitzgerald’s Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyám (1859).
the evolution of fossils