A detective, his client, the mystery of what lies beyond the quotidian sea, and a marginally relevant precedent.
The sunlight hurts my eyes,
I’m unaccustomed to the lack of walls,
and I miss the certainties
my office prison offered me.
My client gives me glasses, dark,
and thoughtfully plasters zinc cream
on my nose,
but the world is not as I expected.
Around me, tidy squares of rubble stretch
into the distance, to where the Sydney
skyline used to be.
It’s been replaced by swirls of sandy smoke
rising to serrated cilia in the maws
of giant clam shells, spinning up above.
I hear the westerly wind carrying Köchel 626
in gentle swell and fade,
and turn to my client,
my eyebrows asking a silent question.
Oh, sorry, I forgot to mention. The planet’s been
invaded by the bivalves, mineralized alien life
that dines on concrete and brickwork.
They dissolve it with acidic emissions,
if I’m reading my lines correctly.
By good fortune, structures like your office,
made of corrugated cardboard, glued and taped,
don’t interest them.
I decide a mild rebuke is called for.
Such details might appear insignificant,
but they could be vital to the case.
Is there anything else you’d like to share?
She offers me a breath mint.
Their vaporous emissions are deadly
to the flowers and the fauns, to humans.
I’m not sure anyone’s survived,
apart from you and I.
I nod. Good to know, good to know.
Dying is one of my to-dos,
but I’ve never really found the time.
Inside my head, a small but fashionable
assistant google suggests
the safety of my cardboard office.
I have a preference not to ride in Dante’s elevator
descending to ephemeral flames (coal-fired)
in the subterrain, while the credits roll.
Is that on the cards?
My client shrugs. Not for me to know.
We set off, and perhaps
I should have inquired about our destination—
why we were travelling westward,
away from the sea,
or whether corrugated cardboard
meets building codes,
or which she found more plausible:
spinning clams or flying saucers.
But such questions would only lead to answers.
- the return of the bivalves; this time they mean business.
- the Allegretto from Beethoven’s 7th Symphony is ahead by nose from Mozart’s Requiem in my list of favorite apocalypse soundtracks.
- Google Assistant: I don’t have one, but they’re probably great.
- Dante’s Inferno (1320 or so)
- the movie Angel Heart (1987)
bivalves in the clouds, part above
reflections in the mirror dancing
My poem “Later Magical Tourism” will appear in the Winter 2017 Issue of Mirror Dance, with winter possibly meaning summer. Mirror Dance is a quarterly magazine of fantasy fiction, poetry, and art, with issues available free on-line. Continues →