A survivor, alone, pupils swollen by dark.
they scratch words whispered
over lips once familiar
into cave wall. they scratch
of fine hair, skin like that on a peach —
not that they remember the taste of fruit,
having lived off cave crawlers and salamanders
for so long. but they remember the shuddering stars
and the old grain silo down the hill by the barn.
there’s the smell of leaves, the roughness of ribbons
of treebark reborn as boats on the imagined sea
of the pond by the farm’s far fence; all gone.
there was always a storm, always a great loss
of life in those days. there was always tragedy.
now their days are silent, save for drops
of springwater tumbling from the ceiling;
their small, slick footfalls on the rocks.
they write words on the wall like
process, appetite, abandon. they write
virus, moonglow, and gone.
they rub their saucer eyes.
their words begin to crowd the wall,
all lit by the glow-worms dangling. they become
larger than the cave can accommodate. if they are a sermon,
it is not full of apples or damnation. if they are a poem,
its only reader is water, its comfort swallowed by earth
like an ill-timed word scratching at the door of a throat.
about the author