cave-dweller 2076

G. J. Sanford

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.


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