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A Letter from the End of Days (Come In. Clean the House.
We Have Died.)

Unscrew the door, but leave the knocker.
Wrench the latch from the brass key.
Pluck the doorstep from the bushes;
pull the bushes from the weeds.

Clear the curtains. Draw the cobwebs.
Wring the water from the tea.
Clap the stairwell from the carpets,
tease the plaid out of the sheets.

Brush the books, now, from the dustshelves:
Let the brittle pages flake,
and in the snowfall of confetti
on the floorboards, write your name.

If you have come and there is winter,
trim the glimmer from the snow.
If you are here and it is summer,
sweep the sunset from the stone.

Take the birds down from their branches;
none of them can sing. On the fire
line of the horizon, fold and hang
the ashes that have gathered

like white flowers in the black fields
of their wings. Trace the dry veins
in the soil, where the runoff once
cut cold; in the dimples where the rain

fell, plant the smallest shards of bone.
As the night wind comes unraveled
and the cracked-skull moon begins to swing,
lay your head against the gravel

and your hands over your face.
Earth will buckle in its seizure,
cleaving crag to gorge; rock spray
will surge up from new fissures

in the desert valley floors.
Rasping sands will lift and coil
from the separating dunes
and wrap into a thickened funnel

sucking surface from the flatlands
like smoke into a flue. Now call out
to the mountains, beg for respite
from the stars: there is nothing else

to help you. There is no one here
at all. Even this letter you have,
written in your own ensorcelled
hand, coldly flickers and dissolves.

Malachi Black

32 Poems

Spring/Summer 2018

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