Radiation parable

Leslie Harrison

& at the appointed hour the sun

& original fire heaving itself ablaze out of the sea

& the sea running away from the fire drying itself on shore

& the spire of our lady falling into flame and scaffolding

& time our only explanation for the sun

& 23 hours 56 minutes

& the sun our only reason for time

& the phone call the one that said they found something

& my body the opposite of a treasure hunt

& always the left breast

& 20 years of call backs

& sometimes they find what others already found

& the spire falls into flames

& sometimes something new aglow in this density of flesh

& the people sing

& the sun crawls out of the ocean

& the people kneel on the pavement

& 23 from frighted but 46 from grief

& the sun washes up abandoned by the stars

& the sky empty except for the warrior birds

& the shore adorned with shining tiny dead fish

& 56 from drowned and 4 from burned

& 1500 infants with their scant handful of dawns

& the sun survives daily the sea

& the sea survives the shore

& they saved some of our lady from the fire


*Note: The numbers of the dead reference the Bills of Mortality for the city of London in the 1600s.


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