Witness

I saw that the roofs are burning,
The cobble stones, the rubble, they are burning,
The squeaky pylons, some no longer functioning, are burning,
The lady with the pram, the end of her skirt that her boy held, is burning,
The seagulls are not spared, they squawk and flap, burning,
The children on their bikes, still clinging to their birth certificates, they are burning,
Their father’s toolboxes, the hump of their backs when they hammer the nails, they are burning,
The cars with their exhausted tires are burning, the air inside is burning,
The men in suits and their shiny shoes are burning,
The flags, in every government office in every nation, are burning,
The walls are burning, even the ones with graffiti on them,
Art museums and what they document of us are burning,
The clocks and their insistent hands are burning,
Water, every last drop of it, burning,
The weary bear cubs are burning, the weary rhinoceroses are burning, even purring house cats and the fur between each of their claws is burning,
The jungles are burning, even as the trees fall one by one while we speak,
The insects run for their lives, towards the cities where they cannot afford rent, they are burning,
The screens and the thumbs and the wireless and the darkest corners of the web, they are burning,
And the paper clips and the signatures and the databases are burning, languishing,
Homosexual love behind doors and across walls is burning,
Burn wounds are burning as they spread, across penetrable and impenetrable skins,
Indigeneity is burning, politics is burning, security is burning,
God is burning, Bob-from-next-door is burning, old folks in old folks’ homes are burning,
Eavesdroppers are burning, athletes are burning, confused women are burning.

These things they burn without fire,
They melt away, like the cries of lock-jawed children dissolving into the light,
Like he ashes of a joint, fall into obscurity between lines.
The scented candlelight quivers, and comfort comes blanketing in the buzz of infomercials,
Telling you to buy more, buy more.
The haze thickens in stagnancy,
Waiting, waiting.

Artwork by Enrico Baj, “Untitled” 1975

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