The moons of twenty-eight yesterdays
are strung across silent twilight,
a pearl necklace on the plump blue throat
of a cyanotic stillborn prepared for burial.
Under the phasing luminescence
an entity stands firm and sleek at the parapet
in the massive arrogance of alabaster,
lichen licking at the chiseled plinth.
Curved stairs descend to the swollen river,
flanked with urns of dying hyssop.
He stares down into the remote depths
where dark fish swirl like impotent enemies.
His reflection grimaces and the pale eyes
blink wherever the water ripples.
He clasps in his right hand the budding
limb sprouting from his marmoreal loins.
An odalisque in mirrorshades
dangles her left hand from the barge,
letting its writhing segments
tempt the triad of black swans.
She reclines, somnolent, on tapestries
depicting ancient sacrifices to dangerous
gods, and sullen silk pillows whose gilt
tassels trail in the soundless wake.
Inviting his gelid gaze, she raises
a triangular chalice to the scarlet cocktail
of her tainted lips. In this unlikely place,
the evening never ages, never dies.
Behind his looming form
the maze begins to manifest:
an arched arbor of acanthus vines
penetrating a spiked enclosure.
It is time to go to sleep;
enter the realm of thorns and shadows,
looking back once or twice
as the floating woman waves goodnight.
The allées are walled with fretwork;
tiny intertwined twigs let through
the lacy lambence of the firmament,
the permanently limpid crepuscule.
The megalithic monster steps down from
his pedestal and follows the narcotic
scent of crushed leaves, the redolence
of bruised herbs hidden in long grass.
Flee past obliquely angled halls or into
receding two-point perspective to slam
the door of the crouching, clucking hut;
the heart still running to catch up.
Slither under the comfort of feathers,
cover your ears and mouth.
Wake later to feel the mattress roll
and slope away with a deep sigh.
A grinding, as if a mountain were
taking off its glaciers, pulling down
its treeline, about to topple
and crush you with cold stone.
F. J. Bergmann is the poetry editor of Mobius: The Journal of Social Change (mobiusmagazine.com). She lives in Wisconsin and fantasizes about tragedies on or near exoplanets. Her work has appeared in Asimov’s SF, Polu Texni, Soft Cartel, Spectral Realms, Vastarien, and elsewhere. She thinks imagination can compensate for anything.