How could we make flames from handfuls of clear sky?

What could we do but stand still and pray for fire?

But then, we couldn’t even do that.

In the end, Christ crouches in the corner weeping

what’s been done can’t be undone


and the heart doesn’t slow or skip or smile

but flickers desperate for air, desperate for that day

spent driving through vineyards—when what we knew

didn’t matter:  as if it had always been fall with heavy

grapes, as if we picnicked our whole lives,

as if we didn’t have lives, as if the sun would always be

in our eyes, as if the moon never rose, never came.

And though we always knew the world was ending,

for that day the end was our beginning, and we took it:

didn’t ask why or wonder where we had been,

but sipped wine and swapped stories and felt safe:

I didn’t think about roots tangled, didn’t need to fly

or look upward for an angel busy polishing the sky—

In the end we’re going to lose and we will prefer now,

we will prefer then, and when what we have diminishes

to pencil and used paper, will our hands be too cold to write?

In the last hours of my life I exist between the letters,

the space that leaves room for the next black mark—

in the end will we be able to tell the difference between

ink stains and soul stains and black and blue skin?

Will the pieces of our flesh melt or fade or crumble,

will we watch our spirits rise above our bodies and sing glory?

by Mercedes O’Leary