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Alice Shapiro

15:59 m
AFTER THE END AFTER THE BEGINNING
By Margo Berdeshevsky

             Tears in the eyes of fishes —Basho

After the end of the world, the dragon flies are the first,
returning. Frogs in chorus in a lead-weight rain, the bones
of buffalo, pissing.

After the end of the world, a shredded page, uprooted
monster trees. A blue jacket, a lace head cloth, a black
boot on a wheelchair stem, a mudded page of the floating
Koran.

After the end of the world, flooded rice fields, a blind
child seeing ghosts of ghosts, stabs his forefingers in his
eyes, screaming.

After the end of the world, Ayesha is chopping chiles to
spice our gruel—I was crazy but now I sing for the world,
she says and says and says again. After the end of the world,  
a crazy woman who loves God, singing ahead of the heat.
After the end of the world, a woman who sings that the bad
ones perished,     Allehu     Akbar     in the next hot dawn again
and again, ever after.

After the end of the world, over and over—I lost, I lost, I lost,
and God is great, the mosquito ballet meeting the dragon flies,
circling.

This is not a dream, this is a tragedy, a boy making his words
a sing-song, spindle-shins, kicking. After red words on the broken
columns:  this is not a dream, this was tragedy, fresh fish who may
have wedding rings in their bellies.

After the end, a new market. After the end, what kind of town had
it been?     yellow velvet, and minarets.     a shredded boot.     blue
china, broken.     a baby's rubber thong, not screaming.

After the finale, smiles left that say, I lived.     I dream of
corpses drowned in the noonday heat. What time is it now?

After the end of the world, the taro plant blooms in another
language, its flood-root, fetid emerald in the mud. After the end
of the world     bruised     dirty     determined Sisyphus —who  
ever breathes—rebuilds.

                                               —Aceh, December 26, 2004—

From "But A Passage in Wilderness" (Sheep Meadow Press/2007)
Copyright © 2006, 2007, 2008 by Margo Berdeshevsky