Friday, February 4, 2022

Better Wonder Harder

At first, the city seems abandoned,
But then you notice narrow cowpaths
Made by locals through the undergrowth.

There is no fog. There are no gardens.
There are hummingbirds and a blue sea,
But when you look out, there are no sails.

It’s so hilly, and even the steps
Carved into the hills are green hills, too,
Except where those paths wander through them,

Wearing bare some old stairs underneath
Their mats of life obsessed with living.
You realize it’s the size of the thing,

A city once containing millions
Of human bodies—at the windows,
Sleeping under the bridges, spilling

At all hours out into and over
The parks and the grass and every street.
There’s too few people now to see them,

Except in rare encounters. Wildlife,
That’s what these locals must be. Fauna
Rare as bears, as dangerous to meet.

Fearful for no sure reason, you pause
Under a vine-encrusted alcove
And peer out at the beautiful day.

Were Angkor Wat and Chichen Itza
Most marvelous when most overgrown?
No living city could be this green,

No living forest this imposing.
Would it be possible to live here,
For you? A serious raptor circles

Over one mostly intact tower,
And you console yourself, muttering,
It’s a silly question. I’m not here.

Or, if I am, I’ve died. If alive
I’m dreaming. I don’t have to live here.
I don’t have to wonder. But you do.

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