It is listening to evening serenades when your perfectly maintained octaves
wince and fold into bone-damp sevenths. Intervals, it seems, strive
for dissonance and reverberations
pierced by chalky nails, uncut. You find this deterioration
startling—yet you cherish broken seismic waves, so you let the
figures passing by scowl into your frosted window. You know
even anonymous disapproval will never be enough to stop this nightly ritual.
You were baptized in ash that fell from the sky; they named you
after the crimson sun that dripped molten apologies
onto your outstretched palms—you’ve worn the burn marks well.
Golden altars embedded in your sleeves make no secret of their presence. They
are unforgiving, so that your every gilded gesture, though delicate as always, stings
of something unfinished. Perhaps repressed—
or hidden away? Viewing the eclipse, longing
thrums in your throat, ceaseless melodies haunting neighboring dreams and lingering
into morning. They taste of bitter surprise encased in unspent time and stopped starlight, grey from centuries’ worship. Until then, you retouch memories like they’re defunct
paintings, flawed by soot and ageless stains of faith. You remove
images of you in ghostly smiles, deepen seraphic shadows, darken angels’ halos.
They glare at you through soulless eyes, all innocence and rosy cheeks and curling locks
of the highest order. Praise thee, you whisper.
You are salted wine from country vineyards, pungent on that
saccharine spot of your tongue. Crystalline pillars stand morose, anchoring grandiose
arena spectators, never satiated despite drinking in
blood-soaked sand. Bronze-skinned slave brings platters of food, he
glimmers in cultivated irony. His master roars in overindulgence, swigs from
silver-plated goblets; he retreats. You are glad
he does not wear rejection proudly, yet glad he remains
alive. Later the world makes a mockery for your sake, and you learn the meaning
of divine intervention, as temples refine themselves but collapse in turn as all your
patron gods flee. Fallen gladiators can’t mask a copper collar, dull in death
but tight as always. There’s always another master, just as harsh, just as
inescapable. And though stolen coins jingle bluntly in your pocket; who can you liberate
now? You free yourself in the end—selfishness keeps you from starving,
and leave the city behind.
Six-stringed lute was stolen from silence tonight,
and you immortalize a discarded past. They never found you, little thief, for who would
search powdered bones for abandoned purity?
About the Author
Margaret Wang is a high school student living in Arizona. She can often be found spacing out, having multiple identity crises, contemplating the universe, or engaging in similarly productive activities.