Thursday, April 7, 2022

A Wailing Charcoal Left on an Abacus Below Lovers’ Volcano

Up until a time, we were
Used to govern an empire
From a valley surrounded

By high mountains with steep cliffs,
For nearly two hundred years.
In the valley was a lake,

And we ruled from its stone shores
By calculations, taxes,
Calendars, and censuses.

We had no population,
We hardly counted one soul,
One fragmentary heartbeat,

But we ruled. Deep pine forests
Grew in our mountain shadows,
Fruit orchards around our lake.

All were tied up precisely
In our notation systems
And sufficient to our needs.

To get a clear sense of us,
Not just of the details but
The reasoning behind them

Is extremely difficult.
We were inaccessible.
We hid tales of the descent

Of ourselves from far away,
How we became hard to reach,
The hermetic devices

Of our rule that shielded us
From boredom, the intricate,
Colorfully woven knots,

Our traditional heirlooms,
Their traditional designs.
Then you came and conquered us,

And now you can only guess
What we meant in our knotted
Hearts before that knife’s descent.

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