DARK NIGHT STRANGLES THE TRAVELLING LAMP

by Jake Reynolds

In response.

Commander Coates of New Earth Transfers descends
from a helicopter’s exoskeleton and battles the gales
to signal Anna Garvey, protestor, handcuffed to the rubble
of a Wonder. He fixes goggles to his eyes, flashes his ID.

Don’t tell me, he says. You swallowed the key.

These streets have spent a year in the tinny grips
of radio screech. He tells her she’s going to catch
her death, and reaches in a pouch on his belt
for a halo of rusty keys. Drones stare from the helicopter.

Don’t tell me, he says. You’ve made up your mind.

A slashed trampoline tumbles overhead in the filth-strewn
sky, where the storms rotate like clockwork. Each step
he takes is a step closer to the bared teeth of
ancient history. I get this a lot, he tells her. It’s my job.

Don’t tell me, he says, that you’re any different.

She says she isn’t scared, but her voice is caught
on the wind’s sharp hook. Do I look scared? I believe
the science. It’s not that. I just have a feeling
that this is it for me. I’ll go down with this old world.

Don’t tell me, he says, that you won’t be missed.

I feel it in my bones, she says, like the guilt
of the war criminals we have followed into the light.
I’m not scared of the hot springs up there, or new seasons,
or the volcanoes you’re already turning into national parks.

Don’t tell me, he says. You’ve become attached.

She wishes she could search his eyes for pain.
I’m telling you, she says, I am not ill. I have never
felt better. If only you could hear my healthy heart.
Good God, it is screaming. He holds it. The streets howl.

Don’t tell me, they say. Show me.

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