He had come to tell us everything, come
so far. He stood there dazed, broken, clutching
a torn sleeve, yet calmed as by sureties
of habit or instinct. All around us
the linden trees, the dusted cedars leaned
their shag shadows into the nightthe old
inhalations brushed quietly through them.
A ringlet of glass encircled his skull.
Damp bloodprecise as a hatline. He had
come such a distance, really, from the last
world, it was hard to see pain on his face
until sirens began to sweep nearer.
All any of us could do was stand there,
while the locusts rocked the trees in response.
This article originally appeared in The New Criterion, Volume 10 Number 10, on page 49
Copyright © 2022 The New Criterion | www.newcriterion.com