Poem 1: summer 2000
When all the others were nothing more
than glowing blue skeletons, piled
in heaps below the Union Terrace
at the edge of where Lake Mendota had been,
we emerged, blinking wetly, from the forgotten basements
and abandoned freezers and refrigerators
buried under miles of landfill.
We came up into that buzzing incandescence
which called itself air. Where we moved,
that fluid swirled around us in viscous rainbows
like the rose window in a melting cathedral.
We wore floor-length evening gowns removed
from the window displays of Nedrebo's Formal Wear
to cover our absence of light; as we left,
long slivers of plateglass snapped
under the weight of our souls.
We never raised our eyes above the necklines
of each others' garments: that would have been unwise.
On each of what used to be fingers or toes,
we wore colored condoms found scattered
in the wreckage of Red Letter News.
A dirty syringe and a jeroboam
of distilled water will last us a fortnight;
a dog or a squirrel suffices for as long
as it takes until the last shards
of roasted skin crumble to aromatic powder.
Above what remains of the Capitol dome a golden angel
tilts like a suicide toward an unknown future.
In Olbrich Gardens the lilies
still waste their empty tendernesses;
the oxypetalum still glow blue as those bleached bones.
© 2000 F.J. Bergmann
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