Go toward the red city they said
and we went to where the ground
rose up against the stubborn dark of noon.
Find where the sevens are sown.
We searched inside the throats of thirteen swallows.
What we heard (that everything growing here
vined toward theoretical blue) proved false.
The minutes continued to fall about our sloping shoulders
cuffing our ears like iron kisses.
In the appended churchyard
we traipsed arm in fist
among the twitch and lurch of sprung earth
green camouflaging green.
The elders must have known
the city was on fire when they loosed vandals
from their armoires.
Where the library once stood,
fragments of the 12 known plot lines,
a few loose vowels to take the measure of what was lost.
From here it was a short jaunt to the confessional,
but the booths were full and besides
what was there to confess other than the same tattered narrative:
Once I resided among kettlefish and barricades etc. etc.
Thinking back, salt was too good for us. Pumice and ash
will register the silhouettes of our fabulous lives –
small squalls wrapped in paper måché,
the muzzled pronoun that is I.